germany-heavy-newborn

From outward appearances, some may look at Baby Jasleen and think she’s cute because of her cherubic cheeks but that 13.47 pound baby is lucky to be alive. She is also a compelling reason why every pregnant woman should seek early prenatal care.

Jasleen’s mother had undiagnosed gestational diabetes. Despite her excessive weight, she was born vaginally, without a cesarean section which grabbed the media’s attention. While mother and baby are doing well, Jasleen remains in the neonatal care unit which should come as no surprise. Diabetic mothers produce excessive sugar which forces the pancreas to produce lots of insulin to lower the blood sugar. However, the mother’s insulin also crosses through the placenta to the baby and lowers its blood sugar as well. Babies are then born with very low blood sugars (also known as hypoglycemia) which can make them extremely ill. Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes can be extremely large with very broad shoulders. During a vaginal delivery the shoulders can get stuck in the birth canal as the baby’s head is being delivered. This is called a shoulder dystocia and is one of the main reasons for birth injuries and lawsuits.

Baby Jasleen will have to be monitored closely to make certain that she doesn’t develop jaundice which is a common complication in newborns who weigh greater than 10 pounds. She will also be at risk for developing obesity as a child. There is also a 5 percent chance that she will develop heart problems when she gets older.

I’m not certain why Jasleen’s mother did not receive early prenatal care but there is no excuse for that in the U.S. All pregnant women, regardless of income are eligible to receive temporary Medicaid assistance during their pregnancy for the first 45 days. This is called “presumptive eligibility.” There are also federally funded community health centers that are required to provide care for the uninsured. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) will guarantee that ALL pregnant women receive care as long as you meet its criteria.

I encourage all pregnant women to seek prenatal care early. A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.