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 Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, head and senior consultant at the inpatient service division 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 Associate Professor Victor Samuel Rajadurai, head and senior consultant at KKH’s department of neonatology.
These include birth injury, low blood sugar, low calcium levels and jaundice.
(Also read: 3 myths about jaundice in newborn)
On average, the weight of full-term babies in Singapore range from 2.8kg to 3kg, Prof Tan says.
Most large babies are born to mothers with underlying diabetes or who developed diabetes during pregnancy.
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.
If the condition is well-controlled, most of the adverse effects can be prevented, Prof Rajadurai says.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.