BookmarkBookmarkTick

Some Babies Deemed Overweight or Underweight at Birth Really Aren’t. Here’s Why

ByMadeline Schmitz
Updated
March 2, 2017
Hero Image
Image: iStock

A recent study, conducted by Dr. Joel Ray of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, has concluded that birthweight can be influenced by both maternal and paternal ethnicity. It’s no secret that a baby’s birthweight is an important predictor of how he’ll handle the first few weeks of life. But you may not know that the way birthweight is measured isn’t entirely accurate — and it has to do with mom’s and dad’s ethnic backrounds.

Current birthweight curves, which compare a baby’s weight to other babies of his same age, are calibrated to assume that both parents are of Western European descent. This means that babies that are “normal” weight for their ethnic group could be classified as underweight or overweight based on the curves that are currently in use. For example, many babies who have a South Asian or East Asian mother or father may be deemed “underweight,” when really that’s not the case. They’re perfectly normal when compared to other babies of the same ethnicity, just not the curve that is generally used by doctors.

The study also looked at how birthweight was connected to where the parents lived. Immigrant parents who lived in a neighborhood with a high concentration of their same ethnic group, for instance, often gave birth to a baby who weighed less than a child of Canadian-born parents (the study was conducted in Canada, FYI).

Because Canadian birthweight curves only account for a single ethnicity, they are often inaccurate. Do you think your baby was inaccurately classified as underweight or overweight at birth? 

Related Video
fat baby standing, view of legs.

Can a Baby Be Too Fat?

profile picture of Anna Davies
Anna Davies
Contributing Writer
blake lively weight loss

No, Blake Lively Didn't Lose the Baby Weight Overnight

profile picture of Sarah Hooper
Sarah Hooper
Associate Social Editor
Published
02/13/2018

Mom Proudly Shares ‘Before’ Weight Loss Photo: ‘My Body Is a Vessel'

profile picture of Sarah Hooper
Sarah Hooper
Associate Social Editor
Published
01/04/2018

How Much Weight Should Baby Gain?

profile picture of Dr. Leigh Serra
Dr. Leigh Serra
Pediatrician

New Mama Bootcamp

profile picture of The Bump Editors
The Bump Editors

Rapid Weight Gain in Babies

profile picture of Wendy Sue Swanson, MD
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD
Pediatrician
Article removed.