The Who2 Blog

10 Grams of Baby Fat

It’s not the most crucial issue of the day, we know, but: Have news reports garbled the weights of the Jolie twins, Knox and Vivienne? It looks like it from here.

The original report from the local French newspaper Nice-Matin, which broke the story on a tip-off from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, read this way:

Les bébés les plus célèbres du monde sont nés hier avant 20 heures à la clinique Santa-Maria de la fondation Lenval. Angelina Jolie, 33 ans, a mis au monde des jumeaux: Knox Léon Jolie-Pitt, un petit garcon de 2 kg 270 et Vivienne Marcheline, une petite fille de 2 kg 280…

Which Google translates to read:

The most famous babies in the world are born before 20 am yesterday at the clinic Santa Maria de la fondation Lenval. Angelina Jolie, 33 years, has brought into the world of twins: Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt, a small boy and 2 kg 270 Vivienne Marcheline, a granddaughter of 2 kg 280…

The translation is imperfect (“granddaughter” is usually petit-fille with a hyphen, if we understand it right) but the context of the story is obvious: a small boy of 2.270 kg and a small girl of 2.280 kg.

A precise conversion of those weights comes to 5.00449 and 5.02654 pounds, respectively, which rounds nicely to 5.00 (Knox) and 5.03 pounds (Vivienne).

The Associated Press, among others, first reported the twins’ weights as 5.0 and 5.3 pounds, and this was the standard for the first day of reporting. Presumably somewhere the “5.03” got transposed to “5.3”.

More recent reports seem to have fixed this, changing the weight to 5.03 pounds.

But — the real curiosity — everyone still seems to be saying that Knox was the heavier baby. People magazine, for instance, says that obstetrician Michel Sussman “confirmed the Nice-Matin newspaper report that Jolie gave birth to a boy, Knox Leon, and a girl, Vivienne Marcheline, by Cesarean section on Saturday night. Knox weighed 5.03 lbs, and Vivienne 5 lbs.” Most other papers say the same thing — even though Nice-Matin reported the reverse.

The question is: Did Nice-Matin switch the weights in its first report, and did Dr. Sussman later “confirm” the right baby weights to others? Or did Nice-Matin get it right, and everyone else has gotten it wrong while cribbing from them and from each other — possibly on the automatic assumption that the male would be heavier?

(The formal birth certificate is no help — it makes no mention of weight, only name and time of birth.)

We can’t find any transcript of official comments by Dr. Sussman, or any indication that he actually, formally spoke to any paper but Nice-Matin. Both Reuters and the Associated Press go the “Sussman told Reuters” and “he told the AP” route. But those may have just been his comments to a pack of reporters on the way to his car. And few state the birth weights as an actual quote from him. (See that People report listed above, where the weights are a separate sentence from Dr. Sussman’s comments.)

Plus (or ploo, as the French say), wouldn’t you think that if the local paper had got it wrong, or if Dr. Sussman had said “No, wait, Knox was bigger,” the world press would have milked the correction for a few bemused stories? They’re desperate for scraps on this one, after all.

Since it seems that Nice-Matin had the original (and only confirmed) reporter in the hospital — Jean-Francois Roubaud — we’re inclined to go with them and assume that Vivienne is actually the heavier child.

Here’s the kicker: Of all the major wire services we’ve checked, only Agence France-Presse seems to agree that Vivienne was the weightier pup: “Knox Leon was reported to weigh 2.27 kilogrammes (five pounds) and Vivienne Marcheline 2.28 kilogrammes (5.02 pounds).” Presumably the AFP should know — they speak French, right? (Though they apparently aren’t willing to round Vivienne’s weight up.)

And that’s probably as much as we’ve ever written about 10 grams of baby fat.

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