The birth of babies weighing more than 11lb, known as ‘sumo’ babies, has increased by more than half during the previous four years. These babies sometimes suffer with ailments as a consequence of their size, and may cost the National Health Service more to deliver. Mothers who are overweight or obese typically give birth to larger babies, which is thought to be responsible for the increase in numbers.
As experts warn of an increased number in overweight mothers giving birth to larger babies, the babies themselves could face health problems as they get older, including stroke and heart disease. In 2008 there were 791 babies born weighing 11lbs or over. In 2011 that figure had reached 1,170. Although a large baby is generally viewed as being healthy, a baby which is much larger than the average size could be a result of an obese mother or an indication of illness.
The average weight of babies has increased in the last 60 years, though t to be due to improved nutrition. The average birth weight of a girl is 7lb 4oz and a boy 7lb 8oz. However, the increase is also attributed to mothers being heavier now, with nearly half of all UK women who are child bearing age being obese or overweight.
Larger babies face problems at birth, including shoulder dystocia which is when the shoulder becomes trapped during delivery. The condition can threaten the baby’s life as the umbilical cord may become compressed which deprives the baby of oxygen. In the worst case scenario, the collarbone of the baby may have to be broken to be able to deliver the baby alive.
Larger babies are also more likely to become overweight or obese as adults, leaving them prone to diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. The National Obesity Forum’s Tam Fry said:
“The root cause of this is that mothers are getting bigger themselves. They are eating a lot of not very good food, and as a result babies are getting bigger. So much effort is needed to teach our schoolgirls the absolutely paramount importance of getting into shape when you go into pregnancy, because the likelihood is that you’ll pile the pounds on as you go through.”
As child obesity appears to start in the womb, children are growing up into obese adults who face life threatening health problems at a much earlier age.