Last Friday Janet Johnson gave birth to her fourth child, a 16-pound (7.257kg) baby boy – that is twice the weight of an average healthy newborn. The baby was two-foot long, has a 17-inch chest and a full head of hair. As Ms. Johnson had developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, doctors had warned her the baby might be large – perhaps 12 to 13 lbs, they had said. Nobody expected a 16-pound baby.

The baby was delivered by Cesarean section a little after 9am on Friday, 8th July, 2011, at the Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, eastern Texas. He weighed in at 16 pounds 1 ounce, two feet long, and a head measurement of 15 inches. A three-to-six month old baby would typically have these measurements, not a newborn.

In developed nations, the average weight of a full-term newborn at birth is about 7.5lbs (3.2kg) – this may range from 5.5lbs (2.7kg) to 10lbs (4.6kg). The average body length is between 14 to 20 inches (35.6-50.8cm).

A nurse who helped during the delivery, said:

“It’s a beautiful baby, but for health reasons
we’d rather not see a baby this large.”

JaMichael Brown (baby’s name) is said to be doing fine. He is in an ICU (intensive care unit) – doctors wanted to regulate his blood sugar – he is also being provided with breathing and eating assitance. His father’s name is Michael Brown. Doctors and nurses say he should be home within the next few days.

Local media in Texas believe JaMichael has set a new Texan record.

Michael Brown said:

“We may finally have a star football player in the family, or maybe a basketball player. I was just amazed when he came out, how big he was. I’m just proud of him, (we are a) proud family.”

The parents said they will have to replace some of the clothing, diapers and other things they had bought in preparation to the new addition to the family. Even the hospital diapers were too small for him.

Janet Johnson is not going to have any more children:

“That’s it, no more now. I’m happy. We’ll be here for a few more days, and then I’m looking forward to bringing JaMichael home and just loving on him.”

JaMichael is not the largest newborn ever. A woman in Indonesia gave birth to a 19.2lbs baby last year. Anna Bates, Canada gave birth to a 23.12lbs baby in 1897, it died eleven hours later. In Italy, a baby boy weighed in at 22lbs 8oz at birth and survived.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes mellitus that develops during pregnancy – the woman did not have diabetes before. It usually goes away after giving birth. Women over 25 years of age, those from certain ethnic groups (Hispanic, African American, Native American, Pacific Islanders, Indigenous Australians and South and East Asians), have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes, as do those who are overweight. A woman who has a close relative who developed the condition has a higher risk of developing it herself during pregnancy. Risk is also higher if gestational diabetes occurred during a previous pregnancy.

If detected early, gestational diabetes can be effectively treated, and most women will have a healthy baby. If left untreated, the baby will be much larger and the mother has a higher risk of complications during labor and delivery.

Babies of mothers who had gestational diabetes have a higher risk of being overweight as children or adults, their risk of eventually developing diabetes one day is also higher. Respiratory distress syndrome risk is also greater.

Written by Christian Nordqvist