I know that everything is bigger in Texas, but the recent birth of a 16 pound, 1 ounce baby in Longview, Texas, really has me concerned. I know that everybody is wondering whether or not this kid will break records, but the only record that I think matters in this case was that the mother’s physician was the luckiest doctor in the state for being able to bring this baby to life.
I say lucky because I’m amazed that the doctor allowed the infant to gain so much weight in utero. I’m also amazed that there was such alleged surprise at the newborn’s birth weight. According to reports, hospital doctors said that the baby was four more pounds than expected.
The baby, JaMichael Brown, is the largest born at Good Shepherd Medical Center, and hospital officials believe he may be the largest baby ever born in Texas. They are currently examining state records to make that announcement official.
Now, let me take a minute to explain a little bit about the development of large babies.
There are many infants that naturally begin to get large for their gestational age. Reasons for this may be that the parents are large people or there is a family history of large babies.
However, when you look at the measurements of these babies, the weight appears to be balanced throughout the baby’s body. In cases like these, for the most part, obstetricians do not need to be unduly concerned about the large fetal growth.
But when babies are hitting abnormally excessive weights – like 16 pounds – there are usually other factors that have contributed to the problem.
Specifically, as in Brown’s mother’s case, the factor is called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition where there is too much sugar circulating in the mother. The sugar is easily transferred to the fetus in utero, which leads to weight gain.
When you look at these babies with a sonogram, typical characteristics not only include overall high fetal weight, but also increased abdominal girth as they develop.
That is why glucose testing of the mother is imperative, as well as serial ultrasounds to monitor fetal weight gain. Babies that are excessively overweight are at risk for many complications, including not only birth trauma and electrolyte abnormalities, but unfortunately in-utero fetal death is also a possibility.
Thankfully, from what I have read, this child seems to be okay, but let us not lose sight of this: 16-pound babies should not be celebrated, but rather serve as a warning that if monitored poorly, pregnancies can suffer unexpected negative consequences.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.