Did you ever think that your height could factor into how long your actual pregnancy might be? Neither did we. Researchers at the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative tracked 3,500 Nordic moms and their babies and found that there was a noticeable relationship between the mother's height and the frequency of prematurity. Basically the shorter the mom was, the more likely it was that her baby was born early.
The findings are significant as preterm births—which are any births that occur before 37 weeks—are the number-one cause of infant death in the United States today. According to researcher Dr. Louis Muglia, "Our finding shows that a mother's height has a direct impact on how long her pregnancy lasts." This shows scientists that the genetic factors related to height may also shape the fetal environment the baby lives within.
But before any petite women start to worry, it's important to note that there are often a variety of factors that contribute to preterm birth—some genetic, some environmental and some still completely unknown. And while the explanation for the link between maternal height and pregnancy length is still unclear, it does tell doctors to keep a closer eye on shorter women and make sure they're gaining an appropriate amount of weight and getting the right nutrients.
Muglia emphasizes that while it's impossible to change a person's genetics, we can give them the best chance possible for delivering a healthy baby.