In Brief

13.5 Pound Baby Born in Germany: Do Large Newborns Face Risks?

baby girl crib
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A baby born in Germany last week is the country's largest, weighing in at 13.47 pounds, according to news reports.

The baby, named Jasleen, was delivered vaginally, which is unusual for such a large baby, NY Daily News says. (Typically, very large babies are delivered by cesarean section.)

The mother had undiagnosed gestational diabetes, a condition that can increase a baby's size.

"The main nutrient that controls babies' growth is sugar," Dr. Kristin Atkins, a specialist in maternal and fetal medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told LiveScience in a 2011 interview. "Therefore, mothers with diabetes that have elevated blood sugars are more likely to have big babies."

While we often hear about the health risks babies' face when they are born too small, large babies face health complications as well.

Large babies (10 pounds or more) run the risk of broken collarbones or damaged nerves in the neck if they are born vaginally, Atkins said. They also can have abnormally large heart muscles, and may need help breathing.

Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes tend to have low levels of blood sugar, and must be monitored closely after birth. Jasleen remains in the neonatal intensive care unit, according to NY Daily News.

In 2011, a 16-pound newborn set a record for the biggest baby born in Texas.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.