Clinicians expect newborns to surpass birth weight by age 10 to 14 days, yet few studies have examined the natural history of weight change in the weeks after birth. We sought to determine the distribution of weight loss and subsequent regain during the first month, the proportion not surpassing birth weight by 14 and 21 days, and whether findings differed by delivery mode.
For 161 471 singleton neonates delivered at ≥36 weeks’ gestation at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Medical Centers between 2009 and 2013 and weighing 2000 to 5000 g at birth, we extracted daily weights from inpatient electronic records and weights from outpatient visits in the first month. Quantile regression appropriate for repeated measures was used to estimate percentiles of weight change as a function of time after birth, stratified by delivery mode.
After exclusions, weight data were analyzed from 143 889 newborns (76% born vaginally). Based on percentile estimates, 50% of newborns were at or above birth weight at 9 and 10 days after vaginal and cesarean delivery, respectively. Among those delivered vaginally, 14% and 5% were not back to birth weight by 14 and 21 days, respectively. For those delivered by cesarean, 24% and 8% were not back to birth weight by 14 and 21 days, respectively.
It is not uncommon for newborns to be below birth weight 10 to 14 days after delivery. A larger percentage of newborns delivered by cesarean had yet to regain birth weight at every time point through 1 month.