There was speculation that this may be the largest baby ever born in Texas, but everyone acknowledges that, although the infant weighs over twice what an average newborn does, bigger babies have been born around the world.
Anna Bates, a Canadian woman who lived from 1846 to 1888, gave birth to a 23 pound, 12 ounce baby at her home in Ohio in January 1879, but the infant died, unfortunately, 11 hours later. Should this record count? The mother was 7 feet, 5.5 inches tall – she and the father shared a type of gigantism and earned their living traveling with P. T. Barnum’s famous circus.
The heaviest baby we could find who was born to a mother of normal stature was a “little” boy born in Italy in 1955. He weighed 22 pounds, 8 ounces. Still, “Wow!”
My personal record was a little girl 12 pounds, 13 ounces whom I delivered years ago. She probably shouldn’t count, either, since her mom, who delivered normally without a cut or a tear, was 6 feet, 1 inch tall.
Most babies weigh between 6 to 9 pounds at birth. Usually, in healthy pregnancies, birth weight is most strongly associated with the mother’s height. The father’s stature plays a somewhat lesser, but still important, role. Poorly controlled gestational (pregnancy) diabetes can also play a role, since the diabetes cannot always be successfully controlled, even with the best efforts of doctors and patients.
Five to eight per cent of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes. It is more likely when the mother is overweight, but we occasionally see women in our practice who are decidedly on the slender side with the disease. Early detection and aggressive management are the keys to protecting mother and infant. We screen universally for the disorder: all woman are tested at 28 weeks, and those thought to be at high risk are tested earlier, too. With the proper diet and frequent blood-sugar testing, most women with gestational diabetes can keep their blood sugars under very good control. When they do, outcomes are usually quite good. Occasionally, medications and other measures are required.
We don’t know anything about the medical details of Ms. Johnson’s pregnancy and delivery, and should not jump to any conclusions. We all wish her and her family well. Nevertheless, for almost all, the goal of having a happy pregnancy and a healthy, normal baby can be obtained.