There's Nothing 'Cute' About Photo of 10-Month-Old With Extreme Baby Fat

baby obese

Who can resist a baby with sweet, chubby cheeks? But while every mom loves a hearty eater, sometimes those extra rolls can serve as warning signs of serious problems to come rather than simply be part of a harmless "baby fat" stage. A 10-month old girl in India, who tips the scales at almost 70 pounds, the weight of your average 6-year-old, has doctors seriously concerned about her health. 

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Despite visiting several doctors, the cause of Aliya Saleem's rapid weight gain remains a mystery. The little girl, who loves curries and biscuits and consumes nearly three times what her peers eat, began packing on the pounds at four months of age. 

Aliya's parents are extremely concerned as they previously lost her older sister to a similar condition. Continuing in their quest for answers, the couple secured a consultation with the head of pediatrics at hospital in the capital city of Delhi, who could not make a diagnosis. But he did throw out some vague but kinda scary terms including morbid obesity (meaning the baby's BMI is off the charts) or a hormonal balance.

Just what is a hormonal imbalance? Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist at the University of California, says it's simply the "manifestation of something wrong with a gland."

The condition can cause adverse symptoms such as excessive weight gain and irritability and may require medication or therapy to correct. Changes in diet and exercise are often considered as well, while in more severe cases in a which tumor has been detected, surgery may be necessary, according to Livestrong.com.

But how much weight is considered excessive? The Mayo Clinic has established the following guidelines for infant growth in the first year:

From birth to age 6 months, a baby may grow 1/2 to 1 inch per month and gain 5 to 7 ounces per week. Your baby should double his or her birth weight by about age 5 months. 

From ages 6 to 12 months, a baby may grow 3/8 inch per month and gain 3 to 5 ounces per week. Your baby should triple his or her birth weight by about age 1 year.

More from The StirChild Obesity by the Numbers Will Scare the Pants Off You

If you have concerns, be sure your pediatrician is measuring your baby's weight and length at each visit and keeping those records on a growth chart. If there's cause for alarm, you want to know about it sooner rather than later. 
 
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, notes that your baby's position on the curve in a growth chart isn't as important as the trend of the curve overall. If there's a sudden shift in that curve, your doctor should let you know about it right away.
 
Because excess fat can lead to a delay in crawling or walking, Hoecker points out, which key milestones in a baby's physical and mental development, you'll want to address it immediately.
 
But just how do you combat obesity in someone so young? Dr. Leann Birch, chair of the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Obesity Prevention Policies for Young Children explains why it’s never too early to take weight gain seriously:

For too long, people didn’t worry about obesity in very young children. A big baby was supposed to be a healthy baby. But kids don’t necessarily grow out of it. They become more obese with age. 

To that end, Birch and the Institute offers some tips to keep kids within healthy weight ranges from birth through age five.

Establish Healthy Sleep Habits. According to the IOM, there is a definite link between insufficient sleep and obesity. If you don't know how many hours of sleep your little one should be getting, talk with your child's doctor. 

Promote Active Play. Whether your child is in preschool, daycare, or at home with you, make sure he has plenty of opportunities to play throughout the day. Try to limit the amount of time babies spend in a pack-and-plays, high chairs, and swings. Even infants need a chance to stretch and crawl, with adequate supervision, of course. 

Breastfeed As Long As Possible. Hoecker says breast-feeding seems to reduce the risk of childhood obesity. Studies suggest that children who were breast-fed as babies are better able to respond to hunger cues and stop eating when they're full.

Experiment with various ways to soothe your baby. Don't automatically turn to breast milk or a bottle of formula to comfort your baby, Hoecker says. Sometimes a new position, a calmer environment or a gentle touch is all that's needed, he says. 

Are you concerned about your baby's weight?

 

Image Marlon Lopez MMG1 Design/shutterstock

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