German babies weigh an average of 500 grams more at birth than Indian ones
A new study has shown that babies born in Germany are on average 500 grams heavier than Indian newborns at birth. A lower birth weight is associated with numerous health risks.
Health risks from low birth weight
A few years ago, a study showed that around one million babies die on the day of their birth worldwide. Premature birth is one of the most common causes of death for children, not least because the little ones weigh very little when they are born. A low birth weight poses a great health risk. A new study has now shown that the weight of newborns is very different in the individual countries.
Study with researchers from ten countries
The weight of a baby at birth varies from country to country and is determined by various other factors such as the child's age and gender. This was the result of a multinational study by the World Health Organization (WHO) with the significant participation of scientists from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE).
As the Hamburg hospital reports, children in Central and Northern Europe are significantly heavier at birth than in India or the Congo, for example - even though they are low-risk pregnancies and women live in a comparable socio-economic environment.
The study, the results of which were published in the journal "PLOS Medicine", included 1,387 healthy women with low-risk pregnancies.
Researchers from Argentina, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Norway and Thailand were involved in the study.
Germany in second place
The UKE's Department of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine, headed by Prof. Dr. Kurt Hecher was the study center for Germany. “139 women from Hamburg were included in the study. The children they born weighed an average of 3480 grams, ”said Prof. Hecher.
Germany was second in international comparison. Norwegian mothers give birth to the heaviest babies with an average of 3575 grams, Indian mothers with 2975 grams the lightest.
According to the information, the differences are not due to the respective socio-economic conditions, all expectant mothers lived in a comparable good environment.
Determination of the probable birth weight in prenatal care
As stated in the UKE communication, determining the likely birth weight plays an important role in prenatal care.
"An estimate of fetal weight is important because low birth weight is associated with higher mortality in the birth phase, more common childhood diseases and longer-term health risks as an adult," said Dr. Anke Diemert, senior physician in the UKE maternity hospital.
In low-risk pregnancies, ultrasound examinations are usually carried out in the 12th, 22nd and 32nd week of pregnancy.
Based on these measurements, the scientists were now able to determine fetal growth diagrams for the circumference of the head and abdomen, the length of the thigh bone and the birth weight as part of the study.
"Above all, it is important for pregnancy that the growth is even, that the fetus is in roughly the same area of the growth curve at all times of pregnancy," said Dr. Diemert.
As the experts write, ultrasound measurements of birth weight are widely used and an important tool in the identification and care of high-risk pregnancies.
"However, many countries use fetal growth curves based on a single population from high-income countries," said Prof. Hecher.
Effects on medical care for pregnant women
“However, with the present study, significant differences between countries and regions could be identified. This will have a significant impact on medical prenatal care worldwide, ”said the doctor.
According to the information, the sometimes clear differences in the average birth weight in India (2975 g), Egypt (3100 g), Thailand (3130 g) and Congo (3170 g) compared to France (3370), Denmark (3462 g) , Germany (3480 g) and Norway (3575 g) in particular due to maternal factors such as age, weight and number of births as well as the gender of the newborn.
"These new data indicate that the identification of high-risk pregnancies worldwide can be improved if these factors are taken into account," said Prof. Hecher.
Based on these research results, the WHO has developed new fetal growth curves that also take regional differences into account.
Interesting in this context are also new discoveries that scientists presented a few months ago in the journal "BMC Medicine". According to this, a urine examination in mothers can identify the future birth weight. (ad)