Pregnancy / Childbirth

Does a woman's diet affect how big her baby will be born?


Healthy, full-bodied (born correctly between 38 and 42 weeks of gestation) a newborn baby should weigh immediately after delivery 3000 to 3500 grams and measure on average 50 centimeters. Of course, these values ​​are some averaging and in reality we are often dealing with larger and smaller children. To a large extent it is genetically determined but it is also important pregnant woman's diet and coexisting disorders of carbohydrate metabolism.

Newborn baby too big, too small and normal

Immediately after delivery, each newborn baby (if it does not require any resuscitation procedures) undergoes careful assessment. In addition to awarding him points on the Apgar scale, Important elements of this assessment are also measurements of body length, head circumference and body weight. Based on this last parameter, a newborn can be classified into a specific group:

  • Eutrophic newborn (normal) - his birth weight is in the range from 3000 to 3500 grams.
  • Hypertrophic newborn (too large) - his birth weight exceeds 4000 grams. This group represents on average 6 to 14.5 percent of all children born.
  • Hypotrophic newborn (too small) - his birth weight is less than 3000 grams. This group accounts for about 2 to 10-percent of newborn babies.

Hypertrophic newborn - causes

Newborn hypertrophy can have many reasons. Some of them are unmodifiable (ethnicity, height, weight and type of parents, over 35 years of age or multiple births), but a few can be significantly influenced (mainly by diet and a healthy lifestyle). Basically we are talking about:

  • Gestational diabetes and diabetes before pregnancy - this disease significantly increases the risk of having a baby that is too large (25 to 42 percent of sick mothers give birth to hypertrophic newborns). Fortunately, this disease can largely be controlled by a proper diet (it is mainly based on the elimination of simple sugars and their replacement with complex carbohydrates), and in selected cases with insulin.
  • Overweight and obesity - children of women with a BMI (body mass index) greater than 25 kg / m2 are usually born larger and have a much higher risk of developing obesity and future cardiovascular diseases. These results emphasize the importance of obtaining and maintaining (through diet and physical activity) a healthy body weight before pregnancy.
  • Big weight gain in pregnancy - on average, a single pregnant woman should gain about 12 kilograms (the higher the BMI, the lower the increase). However, when this value is significantly exceeded, additional kilograms become another important risk factor for fetal hypertrophy. As a result, during pregnancy and elsewhere, a woman should take care of adequate caloric content, balancing her diet and physical activity adjusted to her health.

Hypotrophic newborn - causes

As with hypertrophy, Newborn hypotrophy also has many causes. Of these, given their modifiability by means of diet, the following can be mentioned:

  • Advanced Diabetes - while diabetes is usually a risk factor for giving birth to a large child, it can also, especially if it lasts for many years and is very advanced, lead to newborn hypotrophy.
  • Malnutrition and too little weight gain in pregnancy - inadequate supply of calories in pregnancy, as well as before it, is an important risk factor for having a baby too small. Correctly, a woman should consume approximately 1,900 calories a day (as much as before pregnancy) in the first trimester, in the second trimester an average of 360 kcal more, and in the third trimester even 475 kcal more (assuming that the pregnancy is single and the woman weighs about 55 kilograms). What's more, such a diet should be properly balanced and rich in vitamins (especially from the B group) and minerals (it is worth paying attention to iron, because pregnant women often suffer from anemia) necessary for proper development of the toddler.
  • Drugs - especially, the mother is unfavorable for the mother to smoke and drink alcohol. This can lead to the birth of a toddler too small, but also cause a number of diseases and birth defects (e.g. fetal alcohol syndrome).

Summarizing, Mother's diet is an important factor that affects the size of a child born. Therefore, it should be remembered that taking care of your child's health and conscious motherhood begins many months before the child's birth. To paraphrase the saying "You are what you eat" - the child is what his mother eats.

Bibliography:Pediatrics by Wanda KawalecGynecology and obstetrics by Grzegorz H. Bręborowicz