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Birth weight

Birth weight and gestational age
  • Large for gestational age: Weight is above the 90th percentile at gestational age
  • Macrosomia: Weight is above a defined limit at any gestational age
  • Appropriate for gestational age: Normal birth weight
  • Small for gestational age: Weight is below the 10th percentile at gestational age
  • Low birth weight: Weight is below a defined limit at any gestational age

  Birth weight is the weight of a baby at its birth. It has direct links with the gestational age at which the child was born and can be estimated during the pregnancy by measuring fundal height. A baby born within the normal range of weight for that gestational age is known as appropriate for gestational age (AGA). Those born above or below that range have often had an unusual rate of development – this often indicates complications with the pregnancy that may affect the baby or its mother. The incidence of birth weight being outside of the AGA is influenced by the parents in numerous ways, including:

  • Genetics
  • The health of the mother, particularly during the pregnancy
  • Environmental factors
  • Other factors, like multiple births, where each baby is likely to be outside the AGA, one more so than the other

There have been numerous studies that have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to show links between birth weight and later-life conditions, including diabetes, obesity, tobacco smoking and intelligence.



Associated conditions include:

Influence on adult life

Studies have been conducted to investigate how a person's birth weight can influence aspects of their future life. This includes theorised links with obesity, diabetes and intelligence.


A baby born small or large for gestational age (either of the two extremes) is thought to have an increased risk of obesity in later life.[1][2][3]


Babies that have a low birth weight are thought to have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life.[4][5][6]


Some studies have shown a direct link between an increased birth weight and an increased intelligence quotient.[7][8][9]

Effects on the mother

There is some evidence of a link between a child's birth weight and its mother's risk of cardiovascular disease.[10]

See also


  1. ^ 3 stages of childhood may predict obesity risk - Fitness - Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  2. ^ Fetal and early life growth and body mass index from birth to early adulthood in 1958 British cohort: longitudinal study -- Parsons et al. 323 (7325): 1331 -- BMJ. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  3. ^ Maternal Gestational Diabetes, Birth Weight, and Adolescent Obesity -- Gillman et al. 111 (3): e221 -- Pediatrics. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  4. ^ Rich-Edwards JW, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, et al (1999). "Birthweight and the risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus in adult women". Ann. Intern. Med. 130 (4 Pt 1): 278–84. PMID 10068385.
  5. ^ Influence of variation in birth weight within normal range and within sibships on IQ at age 7 years: cohort study British Medical Journal 11aug01. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  6. ^ The Future of Children - Sub-Sections. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  7. ^ BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  8. ^ BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Birth_weight". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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