Heavyweight First Nation Babies

Researchers find link between high birth weights and postneonatal death in First Nation babies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In a recent study, Canadian researchers sought to determine if the prevalence of high birth weights in First Nation babies poses a risk for perinatal and postneonatal death.

The study, which is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found a link between high birth weights (otherwise known as infant macrosomia) and postneonatal death (infant death occurring between the ages of 4 weeks and 1 year).

The average newborn weight is approximately 7.5 pounds. Babies that weigh more than 9 pounds 15 ounces at birth are considered macrosomic. The causes of infant macrosomia include maternal obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, and gestational diabetes (diabetes that begins during pregnancy).

Between 1991 and 2000, researchers studied 5,193 births to First Nations mothers and 633,424 births to mothers of French lineage. Through a comparison of babies from each group, the study's authors found that rates of macrosomia were three times greater in First Nations babies than in babies of French ancestry. Although the authors found no link between macrosomia and infant death in the first few weeks of babies' lives, they found that macrosomic First Nations babies were 8.3 times more likely to suffer postneonatal death compared to French lineage babies.

According to Dr. Zhong-Cheng Luo, of Saint-Justine University Hospital Center and the University of Montreal's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and coauthors, these findings highlight the need to be more aware of the deadly risks that macrosomia poses to infants born of First Nations women. The authors conclude that future research should determine the cause of this problem in addition to developing prevention programs.

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Review Date: 
January 18, 2011
Last Updated:
January 19, 2011