Those chubby cheeks – and arms and chest and legs and belly. Everything about Aliya Saleem is roly-poly pinchable. But the baby girl’s cute curves are actually nothing to smile about. At just 10 months old, she weighs a staggering 41 pounds, putting her at risk for serious health issues including diabetes and high cholesterol. The weight for an average 10-month-old girl, in contrast, is between 14 and 21 pounds.
Aliya’s sister grew obese with similar speed and tragically didn’t live to age 2, according to their mom Shabana Saleem, 25. “Kids love playing with her, but few can lift her,” the Jharkhand, India mother tells The Sun, adding, “We have to buy her clothes every two weeks because the old ones get too tight.”
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Aliya’s shocking size is even more incredible considering that she wasn’t born obese. Shabana and her husband Mohammad Saleem, 28, say the tot was 9 pounds at delivery. (The couple also has a 5-year-old son, Ali, 5, who is of average weight). But by four months, the little one started to get big, really big. In the six months since then Aliya, who reportedly loves to eat biscuits and curries, has grown to the weight of an average 6-year-old, prompting her parents to panic and turn to doctors.
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“There are a whole bunch of different things that could be causing this,” Deborah Gilboa, MD, a Pittsburgh-based family physician and parenting expert tells Yahoo Parenting. Gilboa agrees with the Saleem’s doctor’s reported suggestion that hormones are to blame.
The fact that the family has had another child go through the same changes leads her to believe that there’s a genetic condition at the root of it all. “It is probably a genetic condition that is changing her hormones so she isn’t able to regulate them,” says Gilboa. “The fact that she has a healthy size brother indicates that Aliya’s size isn’t due to something that the family is doing.”
The family of another obese baby recently in the news is struggling to find answers to these same questions. Colombia 11-month-old Juanita Valentina Hernandez’s family shared her story in January. The baby girl born at just 6 pounds had grown to 44 pounds – the weight of an average 5-year-old – in less than a year as well.
“When she was 15 days old she was already looking chubby,” Hernandez’s mother, Sandra Franco, told the Daily Mail. The family sought out answers in Bogota where the tot has been undergoing treatment. “To all mothers that have babies like this,” says Franco. “Please take care of our children if we don’t want them to get sick.”