10-month-old baby Juanita Valentina Hernandez has the same weight as an average five-year-old. At birth she weighed a normal 6lb, but quickly started to expand in size just weeks later. Presently she tips the scales at 44lb (20kgs or just over three stone) and is going through tests to find out the reason of her surprise weight gain. According to Tam Fry, Patron of the Child Growth Foundation, a normal 10-month-old baby usually weighs 19lb or 8.5kg.
He said: ‘Weight can vary with ethnicity, but regardless of that, this child is vastly, vastly overweight. It is tragic.’ Juanita’s worried mother, Sandra Franco, from Libano, Colombia, said she can’t say exactly what has caused her daughter to ballon in size. ‘When she was 15 days old she was already looking chubby, because she was born very thin,’ she explained. ‘Since then she’s been gaining weight. Now she is 10 months old and I have realised she is morbidly obese.’
Sandra Franco, is presently unemployed so cannot really afford her daughter’s treatment. As per Mr Fry an array of medical conditions can possibly bring on, rapid weight gain in children. Some of the conditions are: Prader-Willi syndrome, which causes a permanent feeling of hunger and can easily lead to dangerous weight gain — Cushings sydrome, where high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause weight gain, as well as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, known as an ‘overgrowth syndrome’ that can cause children to expand in size rapidly.
A month back Colombian charity Gorditos de Corazon – Chubby Hearts – brought Juanita to the capital, Bogota, and treatment began under a team of specialists. It’s the mission of charity founder Salvador Palacio Gonzalez to tackle the growing obesity menace, which increasingly is affecting children. A year ago the charity helped the families of obese babies — Santiago Mendoza and Mayra Caicedo — who had a combined weight of 41kg (90lb or more than six stone). This is the third such case, where the baby weighs more than 20kg.
Speaking previously about the epidemic in his country, Salvador said: ‘Thousands of children in Colombia – and millions around the world – suffer with obesity. ‘From Colombia we have formed an international alliance to help people who are overweight.’ Junita’s future seems bleak if she keeps putting on weight so rapidly.
According to the charity it’s vital to intervene before the age of one in order to prevent illnesses related with obesity, becoming a critical health risk. Mr. Fry said, ‘The most immediate risk of Juanita being so overweight is that she may develop type 2 diabetes within two or three years.’ ‘We are already seeing children aged four with this condition, which can lead to heart disease in the teenage years,’ he explained.
Junita’s begged all mothers to take care of their children if they don’t want to see them getting sick. ‘Please don’t let them die from one of these diseases,’ she added.