Did a 600-Pound Woman Really Give Birth to a 40-Pound Baby?

40 pound baby

You may see a story circulating that a morbidly obese woman gave birth to an impossibly large baby. Rest assured that such accounts can be traced to websites and tabloids known to circulate unsubstantiated stories. No such accounts have appeared from reliable news sources.

  • Description: Fake news / Satire
  • Circulating since: Jan. 2015
  • Status: False

Via World News Daily Report, January 14, 2015:

Australia: 600-Pound Woman Gives Birth to 40-Pound Baby
Perth | A 600-pound woman has given birth to a 40-pound baby at Perth’s King Edward Memorial Hospital, a record breaking weight that could possibly make the newborn the largest baby ever born, reports the Western Australian Herald this morning.
The baby of gigantic size surprised doctors and staff members who were not fully prepared for such an event but miraculously managed to give birth to the 40-pound (18 kilos) baby who remains in a healthy state, has confirmed a hospital spokesman.

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Analysis of the Story

This story originated on a satirical website called World News Daily Report. Like everything else on the site, it's not meant to be taken seriously.

One dead giveaway is the attribution of the report to a newspaper called the Western Australian Herald. No such newspaper exists. Moreover, no actual Australian newspapers have published such an item. Not one.

During the process of fact-checking these claims, one other story was found about a morbidly obese woman giving birth to an impossibly large baby. Written in much the same spirit as the spoof above, it was printed more than 10 years prior in the infamous supermarket tabloid, the Weekly World News. It purported that a plus-size supermodel named Catherine Bergley weighing 500 pounds gave birth to a 40-pound baby in Wellington, New Zealand. She named him Elvis.

The Myth of the 40-Pound Baby

The reality is that no 40-pound human birth, or anything close to it, has ever been recorded. The world record for heaviest birth is held by a 22-pound infant (known only as "Babe" because he died 11 hours after delivery) born to giantess Anna Haining Bates on Jan. 19, 1879. One needn't be a giant to give birth to a giant baby, however. The record for the heaviest surviving birth was set by a 22-pound baby boy born to Carmelina Fedele of Aversa, Italy in 1955.

According to pediatric medicine expert Dr. Vincent Iannelli, the average weight of infants born in the U.S. is 7 pounds, 7.5 ounces. Any birth weight between 5 pounds, 8 ounces, and 8 pounds, 13 ounces is considered normal. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a high birth weight is more than 8.8 pounds. These babies often have parents who are also of large size. But another common cause is that the mother has diabetes during pregnancy. These babies are at risk for birth injuries due to their size and they may have problems with blood sugar.

Birth weights of 13 pounds are newsworthy. A birth weight of 40 pounds is pure science fiction.