BookmarkBookmarkTick

Do Babies Born at High Altitudes Weigh Less?

Is it true that babies born at high altitudes weigh less than ones born at lower altitudes?
ByJennifer L.W. Fink
Registered Nurse
Updated
March 2, 2017
Hero Image

Yes! Believe it or not, babies born in Leadville, Colorado, a city with one of the highest altitudes in the United States, weigh less, on average, than babies born elsewhere in the U.S. The difference isn’t great — just a few ounces — but it does exist.

In fact, Colorado has one of the highest low birth weight rates in the nation (more than 8 percent). Low birth weight can be attributed to other factors, such as improper nutrition, smoking and inadequate maternal weight gain. But there’s no escaping the fact that Colorado’s high altitudes might play a role as well. How? No one knows for sure, but it’s thought that low birth weights have something to do with the lack of oxygen at higher altitudes. When mom lives in a low-oxygen environment, there’s less blood flow to the uterus, which means that the baby receives slightly less oxygen. The theory: Less oxygen = a slower metabolism = slower growth = a smaller baby.

The exception is when the mom’s ancestors have lived at high altitudes for many generations. Example? Babies born at high altitudes to Andean women weigh an average of nine ounces more at birth than babies of European women at similar altitudes, and experts think it’s because the women’s bodies have adapted to the low-oxygen environment.

But don’t panic. Since the weight difference between high-altitude babies and low-altitude babies, especially in the States, is slim, it’s not likely your baby will have health problems because of his birthplace’s altitude. If you live at a high altitude and are really concerned, eat right, see your doctor regularly and snuff out that cigarette. Right now.

_—Larry Kieft, MD, OB/GYN, Poudre Valley Medical Group, Fort Collins, Colorado
_

Related Video
model gigi hadid and partner zayn malik

Gigi Hadid Reveals Home Birth Story and Says Zayn Malik Caught the Baby

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/05/2021
actress Jodie turner smith has home birth due to systematic racism

Actress Jodie Turner-Smith Opted for Home Birth Due to Systemic Racism

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/17/2020
pregnant woman touching her belly and sitting on a plane

Alaska Mom Gives Birth on a Plane and Names Child Accordingly

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/14/2020
hands holding newborn baby feet

Woman Gives Birth to Rainbow Baby 9 Days After Learning She’s Pregnant

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
12/17/2019
Erin Langmaid delivers her baby without realizing she was pregnant

Australian Model Didn’t Know She Was Pregnant Until She Gave Birth

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
11/14/2019
woman's hands hold her sonogram at the doctor's office

Incredible 3D Images Show How Baby’s Head Changes Shape During Birth

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/16/2019
staged environment that shows newborn baby in space suit surrounded by stars and planets

This Startup Wants to Send a Pregnant Woman to Space to Give Birth

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
01/03/2019
pregnant model at rihanna fashion show, gives birth backstage

Pregnant Model Walks New York Fashion Week Runway, Goes Into Labor Backstage

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
09/14/2018
pregnant woman sitting on bed in her underwear with her phone

NSFW: Viral Video Shows Mom Giving Birth in the Car With Husband and Kids

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
09/07/2018
woman who just gave birth laying down at the hospital

First-Time Mom Gives Birth in Just 9 Minutes

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/15/2018
woman gives birth in chick fil a bathroom

Baby Born in Chick-fil-A Bathroom Gets Free Food for Life

profile picture of Laurie Ulster
Laurie Ulster
Contributing Writer
Published
07/23/2018

Baby Born in Chipotle Parking Lot Gets the Most Fitting Shower Ever

profile picture of Sarah Hooper
Sarah Hooper
Associate Social Editor
Published
05/07/2018
Article removed.