Percentiles and Perspective

Kate’s doctor called back after the ultrasound Tuesday, and this time the news was all good– FutureBaby appears very healthy, and everything is as it should be.

There was one interesting little quirk, though, having to do with the weight. Kate mentioned last night that FutureBaby’s estimated weight is in the 70th percentile for babies at this stage of development.

My immediate reaction was “That’s all? What’s wrong?”

Needless to say, this is not what Kate was thinking…

The difference is that the only place I’m used to encountering percentile ranks is with regard to standardized test scores, where I’m used to seeing numbers in the 90’s (except for my Physics GRE scores, but the less said about those, the better).

Of course, I’m not the one who’s going to be giving birth, here, and Kate thinks that “bigger than 70% of other babies at this stage of development” is plenty big enough, thank you…


  1. #1 Opiwan
    May 22, 2008

    Oy… I hope she’s 70th percentile herself. My son (second child) was a 50th percentile child size-wise at birth. Unfortunately for her, my wife is about a 20th percentile female size-wise. Ouch!

  2. #2 Karen
    May 22, 2008

    You might remind your wife that the world won’t come to an end if she accepts a local anasthetic. My husband was so large at birth that it was assumed his mother was carrying twins (since they ran in her family). My mom-in-law is a very petite lady, and can’t possibly imagine how she might’ve made it through the birth without some anesthetic assistance. The resulting offspring was every bit as intelligent, creative, dextrous, and athletic as his smaller-at-birth siblings. (And he didn’t turn out to be a particularly large adult at a medium-boned 5’11”.)

  3. #3 Harry Abernathy
    May 22, 2008

    Chad, do you really want your kid to be on the high end of the bell curve? There is no real honor in being the fattest baby around…

    Also, calculating the baby’s weight based on the estimated size from the ultrasound is a calculation riddled with error. You should’ve asked the ultrasound technician for some error bars on that estimate, but you probably just would have received blank stares.

  4. #4 Brian
    May 22, 2008

    Well, given Chad’s and Kate’s respective sizes, I would have expected an even 50th percentile for the baby…

  5. #5 Clay
    May 22, 2008

    I don’t imagine the average weights of babies in the womb has changed all that much, but on the standard child development charts that pediatricians use, it seems that most children I know are above “average” height and weight.

  6. #6 Kate Nepveu
    May 22, 2008

    His wife does read the comments, thanks, and is perfectly well aware of the various options for labor and delivery.

  7. #7 estraven
    May 22, 2008

    from a mother-of-three: every percentile between 5 and 95 means healthy child and is ok.

    I guess everybody knows it, but labor pain has not so much to do with the baby’s weight, and a lot with its position (and head size). Please accept my best wishes for a healthy baby and a pleasant childbirth (yes, it’s not an oximoron).

  8. #8 Moshe
    May 22, 2008

    How about tenure in Canada in exchange for US president that boosts the Canadian economy enormously? win-win situation…

  9. #9 Moshe
    May 22, 2008

    Oops, wrong thread, feel free to re-arrange.

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