Babies born weighing 8.8lbs or above are more likely to be diagnosed with childhood cancer than their smaller counterparts. Big babies have been linked to childhood cancers, after new
research found that the higher the birth weight, the greater the chance of developing the disease. Academics at Oxford University, who looked at the records of 40,000 cases of childhood cancer, found that for every 1.1lb over the average birth weight, the risk of childhood
cancer went up by six percent. The average birth weight is currently 7.1lb, but it has been increasing in recent decades, possibly due to a reduction in smoking during pregnancy and
better healthcare. Birth weight was only found to be a risk factor in around half of childhood cancers, including the most common type, leukaemia. “The bigger your baby is the greater the risk they will have of developing these cancers,” said Dr Kate O’Neill, from Oxford’s
Childhood Cancer Research Groups. “Though obviously not
all large babies get cancer.” Around one in 500 children will
be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 14 in the UK, but the research suggests that for babies weighing 8.8lbs or more at birth, the risk increases to one in 420. Though the cause of this link is unknown, the researchers have suggested it could be related to growth hormones, which bigger babies have higher levels of.