The average baby weight in the U.S. is 7.5 pounds, with up to 15% body fat. All that pudge makes babies more cuddly, but it also helps feed their growing brains, which can use half or more of their energy every day. Was your baby weight average? An AncestryDNA® test can tell you a little something about the connection between your DNA and your birth weight.
More About Average Baby Weight
There’s a large range of healthy average baby weights at birth. The average baby is born weighing from 5 pounds, 8 ounces to 8 pounds, 13 ounces.
Many premature babies weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, which may be called “low birth weight.” But just because a baby has a lower (or higher) than average birth weight, it doesn't always mean there's something wrong. Sometimes babies simply weigh less (or more) than average.
About 1 in 12 babies in the U.S. has a low birth weight. Most end up catching up to their peers in weight. And after birth it's normal for babies to lose 7% to 10% of their weight, which is mostly just extra fluid.
Genetics of Baby Birth Weight
If you had a low baby weight at birth, will your child be born lighter than average also? Some studies suggest genetics may account for 30% to 80% of baby birth weight variation.
Although science is still learning more about the genes that affect birth weight and how they interact, it's known that certain DNA differences are often linked to lower birth weights.
Low birth weight is an “additive" trait. The more "low weight" DNA differences you have, the more likely it is that your birth weight was below average. So if your parents had low birth weights, you're more likely to have been born on the lighter side. But it's not a guarantee.
What Science Says About Birth Weight
Many other things besides genetics can have an impact on a baby’s birth weight One of the biggest of these factors is the length of the mom's pregnancy; babies born closer to their due dates tend to weigh more.
A pregnant woman's diet, her weight, and overall health also affect the baby's weight at birth. For example, if the mom has high blood pressure or heart issues, this can contribute to her baby's low birth weight. Mothers with diabetes, on the other hand, tend to give birth to heavier-than-average babies.
Gender can also play a role in birth weight: Overall boys tend to weigh more than girls at birth.
Interesting Facts About Baby Weight at Birth
Human babies have among the highest fat percentage of any baby mammal. But scientists aren’t sure if the higher percentage fat is more for warmth or to nourish their big brains.
And while most weigh from about 6 to 8 pounds, there are notable exceptions. The biggest baby on record was 22 pounds, born in Ohio in 1879. His mother was 7 feet, 11 inches tall.
The smallest surviving baby is considered to be Baby Saybie, born at 23 weeks in 2018. She weighed 8.6 ounces, which is about the size of a large apple.
Saybie spent five months in a hospital before she could go home. She weighed 5.6 pounds when she went home to her parents.
What does your DNA say about your birth weight? Find out with an AncestryDNA test with Traits.
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