Chinese Girl Dubbed ‘Michelin Baby’ For Chubby Arm Rolls

Sam BloxhamGetty Images

Photos and video of 6-month-old Xue Yuyan of China have been viewed over 4.7 million times, and the infant is being called the “Michelin Baby” because the rolls on her arms resemble the mascot for the Michelin Tire Company, the Michelin Man.

The Daily Mail says that the Chinese media has given the 6-month-old the moniker Michelin Baby due to her chubby limbs and her size in comparison to other baby girls her age, as she weighs in at 27.5 pounds. Xue Yuyan’s parents, who hail from northeastern China’s Jilin Province, took the photos of the baby playing and in the pool.

Yuyan’s father, Xue Lei, says his daughter is healthy, despite her size, and he and his wife are documenting the baby’s growth on a website called Kuaishou.

“She eats well, drinks well and sleeps well every day.”

The family jokingly calls her “Pomelo (a type of grapefruit)” because she “looks like a pomelo.”

Lei says that he is slightly concerned that the baby’s weight gain could continue, causing her to be overweight as she gets older, as she is twice the weight of an average baby girl in the country. He adds that she will be going in for her six-month checkup soon.

But Xue Yuyan’s father has reason to be concerned because even though the rolls on her limbs are cute, they can be an indicator of a disease called “Michelin tire baby syndrome,” or circumferential skin creases Kunze type. According to Science Daily, this disease is extremely rare with fewer than one dozen cases around the world.

The disease is genetic, according to clinical geneticists in Belgium who have isolated two genes that cause or trigger the disorder.

Professor Hilde Van Esch from the KU Leuven Department of Human Genetics says that while the rolls on the limbs are the most visible symptom of the disorder, it can be an indicator of more serious congenital problems.

“The skin creases disappear naturally over time, but affected children also exhibit intellectual disability, short stature, and dysmorphic facial features such as a cleft palate.”

The disease has been a challenge to study because there are so few cases of Michelin tire baby syndrome in the world, but the two identified genes are MAPRE2 and TUBB. Both of these genes contain the production code for proteins that are part of microtubules and are critical to making vital proteins and launching cell division.