Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Obese" infant denied health insurance

I saw this article and had to write a quick note on it. Apparently a 17 lb 4 month old is being denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition - obesity. The child is in the 99th percentile for both height and weight, but the insurers look at the weight cut off only and won't accept a baby over 95th percentile - despite the fact that the child is solely nursed and totally healthy!

Can you believe that? The Dad joked that they don't have control over what he eats to put him on Atkins (and he's not yet walking to go on a treadmill!), but as soon as he goes on solids they'll start the slim fast. The mother (quite rightly!) said she won't withhold food to get him below this arbitrary number. I realize I'm coming off really opinionated here, so if there's another side of the story that I'm just not seeing (because I'm too busy seeing red!), please let me know your thoughts.

I know that insurers are "numbers" people and that they have to manage risk, which is based on a discrete set of numbers / rules, rather than personal experience or subjective input. But it seems like their numbers and rules should allow for exceptions on weight restrictions for INFANTS under 6 months or a year old - especially those that have not started solids yet! I don't know enough about how formula feeding 'works' to understand potential overfeeding issues there, but I know that you really can't overfeed a nursing baby. My daughter will simply stop eating when she is full - even if I continue to attempt to nurse her. Admittedly, it is possible to "force" too much expressed milk on her (I think one of our babysitters may have accidentally done this) - but she just spits it up if you do.

This just makes me so mad!

Click on my post title for the full article.


  1. I think it could be possible to "overfeed" a nursing infant, only in the way that they nurse 90% of the time due to comfort instead of hunger.

    One of the issues might be that this woman is nursing her child each and everytime he cries, before analyzing what really could be wrong with him. Infants will nurse as a reflex, even if they're not hungry.

    HOWEVER, I disagree with this insurance company. Breastfeeding is one of the healthiest things you can do for an infant, so they should be giving this lady money for her efforts. With him nursing, the insurance company is saving money with less dr bills in the future.

    My husband works for an insurance company so I, too, see the numbers side of it, but I also see the mother side (as I'm 35w pregnant).

    I would be raising holy hell with the insurance company.

    As a matter of fact, I'd switch and then raise holy hell against them.

  2. I'd always heard that you can't overfeed a nursing baby, but decided to do some more checking on this. To be fair - nearly every article / commentary I could find on this was from La Leche League or some other pro breastfeeding group, so take it with a grain of salt, but here's what I got. Nearly all said either that you can't overfeed a breastfed baby or that it's very rare (and would be characterized by other gastric issues - not just weight gain). While babies will latch and suckle for comfort, they're actually not always nursing then. In the first few weeks, I found that my daughter ALWAYS wanted to be attached to me during the night - but she wasn't really eating most of the time.

    But whatever the case - even if I'm totally wrong and the infant is overfed, Stephanie makes an excellent point about the benefits of breastfeeding regardless of potential overfeeding.

    For reference, I decided to write an email to the company to share my views. I know one email doesn't make a difference, but I figured I could add to the numbers (and be one more disgruntled member of the public) when they looked at their bad PR backlash.


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