Juanita Valentina Hernandez weighed six pounds at birth, but 10 months later, she weighs a total of 44 pounds — as much as an average kindergartner. According to the World Health Organization, a baby around Juanita’s age should weigh between 17 and 20 pounds
Juanita and her mother, Sandra Franco, live in Colombia. Franco is very worried about her daughter, and claims she has no idea how Juanita got to her current size. In fact, Franco claims that by a mere 15-days-old, Juanita was “already looking chubby,” but had believed it was because Juanita had been born “very thin.” Franco wants other mothers to be aware, as well.
“To all mothers that have babies like this, please take care of our children if we don’t want them to get sick. Now she is 10 months old and I have realized that she has morbid obesity.”
Until now, Franco has been financially unable to get Juanita the medical help the baby need because she has been unemployed. But a Colombian charity called Gorditos de Corazon (translated it means, literally, Chubby Hearts) accepted Juanita into their weight program, and so Juanita is finally able to get the medical attention she truly needs.
“Until now I haven’t been able to treat her because I am unemployed and didn’t have the money,” Franco said, but Juanita is now undergoing treatment for her obesity in Bogota.
Salvador Palacio, the director of Gorditos de Corazon, has been working to raise awareness and fight against infant obesity. Juanita is actually the third baby he has seen in the past year who has weighed over 40 pounds. In 2014, he helped two other Colombian babies, who, together, weighed a combined 91 pounds, successfully lose weight.
“We hope with six to eight months using a special diet, the babies could be down to a normal weight,” Palacio said at the time. “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.”
Dr. Dominika Wittek, a pediatrician at Tribeca Pediatrics, says infant obesity like Juanita is dealing with can lead to a host of health problems, including diabetes, increased cholesterol, and other problems that could, eventually, lead to high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
“It’s also a big strain on the joints,” she says. “Babies that are that heavy have more body mass so it’s trickier to meet developmental milestones.”
If parents are concerned about their child’s weight, Dr. Wittek advises that they should raise the issue with their pediatrician, who may refer the family to a specialist like an endocrinologist or nutritionist.
“Don’t put your baby on a diet on your own,” she says. “Generally in pediatrics the approach that we take is to slow down the weight gain so they can grow into their weight, and improve the ratio of length to height, rather than pushing a baby to lose weight. But even that is something a parent should discuss with a doctor.”
Watch the video below for more on Juanita, and click here to see one of the first babies the Colombian charity Gorditos de Corazon helped.
[Image via the New York Post]