Lei Lei, who resides in China's Hunan province, didn't pop out this big. At least according to his mother, who told reporters her son's weight boomed in conjunction with his appetite.
"No matter whatever he grabs, he unconsciously puts it in his mouth," Cheng Qingyu said of her son. "His most favorite thing is to eat."
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that babies gain around 1 to 2 pounds per month until 6 months of age, and a pound a month after that. In other words, Lei Lei must really be packing -- or sucking -- it away.
Lei Lei is undergoing a battery of tests to establish whether there's a medical explanation for his extreme obesity.
And though experts acknowledge that obesity in kids is rarely attributable to health problems -- and usually explained by inactivity and poor nutrition -- Surge Desk has a hard time understanding how a 10-month-old baby could grow this much, this fast, without an underlying issue. So what are a few of the possible culprits?
A Genetic Risk
Children with obese family members have an 80 percent chance of becoming obese themselves, according to Penn State Children's Hospital. Pictures of Lei Lei's trim mother suggest that genetics can't entirely explain away his extra pounds, but his DNA might still increase the risk of that extra breast milk going right to his thighs.
That Darn Thyroid
Problems in the thyroid gland can develop during gestation, setting an infant up for immediate health problems. In Lei Lei's case, congenital deficiency of leptin -- a hormone behind appetite control -- might be causing out-of-control hunger pangs and subsequent overeating.
Connecting a few recent news dots offers yet another explanation for Lei Lei's mega mass: bisphenol A, also known as BPA, a potential cancer-causing agent that has been found in an alarming number of places lately, including cash register receipts and canned food items across the United States.
In 2007, health experts sounded the alarm over the presence of BPA in formula containers being sold worldwide, alleging that it triggered -- among other things -- obesity in infants. Much of the BPA is produced in China, especially in southern regions like Lei Lei's home turf of Hunan province. In 2008, Chinese baby formula manufacturers sickened thousands of babies after selling contaminated formula.
And only a few weeks ago, China's health ministry announced plans to investigate allegations that formula sold in Hubei province, just north of Hunan, was triggering extremely premature puberty among Chinese infants.
So might Lei Lei be a hefty harbinger of a trend in chemically induced infant weight gain? Time -- and medical tests -- might soon provide an answer.