Docs Worry About Obese Newborns In India

Obese babies - Docs worried! INDIAS obesity epidemic hasnt spared new born babies. More Indian women are giving birth to fat babies unlike a decade ago, a trend that has city doctors worried. While chubby babies might be considered cute and cuddly, paediatricians say that they face a host of health problems.

"These days pregnant middle and upper class women eat too much and dont do any exercise, so they end up delivering fat babies," Dr Babita Jain, HOD, paediatrics, Max superspeciality hospital, said.

Private clinics report a 10 per cent rise in overweight newborns while the average weight of a newborn used to be 2.8 kg. This has shot upto 4 kg or even 4.5 kg and more.

While upto 3 kg is normal, above that it is problematic, Jain added.

Since the main nutrient that controls a babies growth is sugar, mothers with diabetes that have elevated sugar levels are more likely to have big babies. Doctors say diabetic moms- to- be deliver fat babies commonly.

"Diabetic women often deliver babies who weigh 4 kg upwards," Dr Nitin Verma, consultant paediatrics, Max superspeciality hospital, Saket, said. While in the womb, the babies are used to high level of sugar, but when they are born, this source is cut off. As a result, these large babies tend to have low blood sugar, and need close monitoring after birth. They are also at a risk of developing jaundice, he said.

Besides complications in delivery, fat babies are prone to numerous health problems.

"Large babies are hyperglycaemic, develop cognitive problems, low calcium levels and most importantly, end up as fat adults," Dr Rajiv Chabra, HOD, paediatrics, Artemis hospital, said.

While genetics can sometimes be blamed, the mothers diet and lifestyle is the more likely trigger. " Many pregnant women end up consuming more protein food than what is required. Medical interventions like the ultrasound to find out the babys growth also plays a role. If the baby is not growing well, the mother consumes excess food," Verma said.

"Pregnant mothers face complications during the deliveries of very large babies. " If a baby is extra heavy, there are chances that the babys shoulders can get trapped under the mothers pelvic bones. It can damage the nerves in his/ her neck, collarbones or even arms. These babies also need help in breathing and have abnormally thick heart muscles," Dr Shivani Bhatnagar, city based paediatrician, said.

"Obese babies cause more birth related injuries such as tears of vagina or rectum in their mothers. These obese mothers end up having the C- Section procedure, which presents a lot of complications too," Bhatnagar said. Later in life too, these babies face a high risk for obesity, diabetes and a range of metabolic syndromes.

Doctors advise women to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy, monitor what they eat and control their diabetes if they are suffering from this during their pregnancy.