Expectant Scottish mothers have been issued with a warning: put down that second double cheeseburger! Apparently pregnant women north of the border are taking the concept of eating for two a little too far and are producing what are being to referred to as “Sumo babies.”
The Royal College of Midwives said a rise in the number of overweight pregnant women in Scotland is resulting in more babies with a birth weight of 10 pounds or more.
According to official statistics, 7.1 percent of babies born in Scotland in 2015 were considered to be “large for gestational age,” a small increase from 7 percent in 2014. Medical authorities in Scotland consider babies weighing 9 pounds 14 ounces or more to be “oversized” or “macrocosmic.”
The Scotsman said 852 babies weighing at least 10 pounds were born in the country in 2015. The largest topped the scales at a whopping 13 pounds 1 ounce — almost twice the size of an average newborn. (FYI, according to Guinness World Records, the biggest surviving baby ever born arrived in 1955 in Italy, weighing 22 pounds 8 ounces) Ouch.
Women who are overweight or obese may give birth to heavier babies because the foetus receives more insulin (produced by high sugar levels) via the placenta. Overweight mothers have a higher risk of complications during pregnancy, such as maternal diabetes, which affects around one in 20 pregnancies and can lead to a baby being born “oversized.”
Oversized babies are at increased risk of stillbirth, getting stuck during delivery and having a lifetime of health complications, including heart disease and diabetes. Larger than average babies are also more likely to be delivered by C-section or assisted delivery, such as forceps, which can also pose health risks to the unborn child.
Gillian Smith, director for the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, said bigger babies put increased pressure on midwives, paediatricians, anaesthetists and obstetricians.
“The whole obesity thing is a big challenge, we need to get the message out there that if you are going to have a baby, you need to be a healthy weight before you start getting pregnant,” she said. “In Scotland there has generally been a rise in big babies and there is no doubt that the rate of caesarian sections is also increasing. Unfortunately having a C-section can set a precedent for future pregnancies. There is also a higher stillbirth rate in pregnancies that follow on from a caesarian.”
Frances McGuire, acting chief midwife for NHS Lothian, said: “We offer advice in the early stages of pregnancy about the importance of diet and of taking regular exercise. We also offer specialist services to mums with diabetes whose baby may be at risk.”