A range of factors can influence the likelihood of having an unusually large baby, including a mother’s weight and age, genetics, gestational diabetes, and a baby being overdue, however new data shows widespread variation in baby weights across the country.
Babies are considered unusually large if they weigh at least 8lb 13oz, or four kilograms – the equivalent of four bags of sugar.
The medical term is foetal macrosomia, and it can lead to complications during labour, including a greater likelihood of a caesarian section.
ONS data shows one in 10 babies in England are unusually large, with 57,753 of the 569,314 live births with weights recorded in 2020 tipping the scales at four kilograms- 596 of which weighed five kilograms, or 11lb.
So where in England are the biggest babies born – and where does Lancashire stand?
At a regional level, women in the South West were most likely to have large babies, with 11.9% weighing at least four kilograms, followed by women in the South East, at 11.5%, whilst women in London were least likely at 7.7%.
Overall, this meant big babies were more common in northern regions (10.4%) than in southern (10.1%) or midlands regions (9.8%).
The ONS does not publish data by local area, however NHS Digital holds baby weight data for 283,600 births in England during 2021 (excluding May, for which data is missing) by council area, meaning the Post can compare the situation across Lancashire.
Only babies born at 37 weeks gestation or later are counted in these figures, so premature babies with low weights are excluded, and using NHS Digital’s data, 10.9% of babies were super-sized last year.
In Lancashire, Ribble Valley had the third highest number of large babies nationally, with 24.1% weighing over 4kg.
However birth weight data was only recorded for a third of babies in the Ribble Valley, so the data may not show the true picture.
The next highest proportion of super-sized babies was Pendle (17%), Chorley (16.2%), and West Lancashire (16%), although Pendle and West Lancs had a large number of babies with unknown birth weight.
Also with a higher than average number of large babies was Fylde (13.5%), Hyndburn (13.3%), South Ribble (13%), Lancaster (12.9%), Blackpool (12.7%), and Wyre (12%).
Preston was the only Lancashire district which had an average number of big babies born last year, with 10.8% weighing over 4kg.
Finally, with lower than average numbers comes Rossendale (7.1%), Burnley (5.9%) and Blackpool with Darwen (2.9%), although these three also had a large number of babies with unknown weights.
Nationwide, Rugby claims the crown for England’s biggest babies, with 25.6% of babies weighing four kilograms, however, birth weight data was only recorded for one in every five of Rugby’s births.
If looking at areas where weight was recorded for at least half of births, West Devon moves into the top spot, with 21.6% four kilograms or heavier, whilst mothers in Newham were the least likely to have large babies, with 5.5%.