Among the first questions that a new parent gets is: How big is your baby? Traditionally, a big baby is seen as a good sign of health.
Contrary to popular belief, size does not determine a baby’s health, says Dr Suzanna Sulaiman, head and senior consultant at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
In fact, newborns weighing more than 3.8kg face more complications than normal-sized babies, says adjunct professor Victor Samuel Rajadurai, senior consultant at KKH’s Department of Neonatology.
These include birth injury, low blood sugar, low calcium levels and jaundice.
On average, the weight of full-term babies in Singapore range from 2.6kg to 3kg, Dr Suzanna says.
Most large babies are born to mothers with underlying diabetes or those who develop diabetes in pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes mellitus.
In general, such babies have a three-fold higher rate of birth defects involving the brain, lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tract and spine. Some can be critically ill.
A birth-weight of more than 4kg puts the baby at high risk of developing obesity and diabetes as a child and also as an adult.
Pregnant women should monitor their blood glucose in the second half of their pregnancy to detect any emergence of diabetes. Even if there is early detection of gestational diabetes mellitus, it is important to monitor sugar levels and also have a balanced diabetic diet throughout the entire pregnancy.
Good control of gestational diabetes mellitus is essential in having a good pregnancy outcome.
After delivery, it is also important to perform an oral glucose tolerance test to ensure that the condition has resolved.
If the condition is well-controlled, most of the adverse effects can be prevented, Prof Rajadurai adds.
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