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Big Baby, Big IQ

To be born larger than average therefore gives you a better chance to be smarter than average. This is due to the fact that heavy babies were in fact better nourished during the essential stages of their brain development. This theory, of course, also implies that babies with a lower than average birth weight often have a slower than average mental development – which has been proven by scientific studies. Premature babies have the possibility of being particularly affected by an insufficient weight.

The very serious British Medical Journal has proposed the hypothesis that heavier babies will have a higher than average IQ when they grow up. Towards the end of the 1970s, a team of American researchers studied a group of 3,484 people born between 1959 and 1966. The birth weight of each of them varied between 2.2 pounds and 8.8 pounds. These scientists observed a significant difference on the results of IQ tests: in general, people who weighed 5.5 pounds scored ten points less than those who weighed 8.8 pounds.

At the time that these studies were published, the researchers concluded that “There is a small difference, but one that could prove significant when we take the whole population into account.” In fact, it is the development of the fetus that is important, rather than the birth weight. A calm and unhindered pregnancy increases the chances of a successful gestation period – and the brain, of course, will grow better in these circumstances.

Other more recent studies agree with these findings. Work recently undertaken by a group of Danish doctors demonstrated that birth weight has a positive effect only until 9.3 pounds, at which point a higher weight does not continue to influence IQ. Research is still being carried out today, because no one has yet formally proven that there is a link between a heavy baby and a smart brain. What we know, however, is that the first five months of pregnancy are absolutely vital in the development of a baby’s brain.


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