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Shorter babies more at risk of suicide

Babies born shorter than average are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as adults, says a new study.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 17, 2008 15:04 IST

Male babies born shorter than average were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as adults, especially by violent means, according to a study released today.

Even among men of normal height who began life as newborns less than 47 centimetres long, the link with suicide remained almost as strong, said the study, published in the British Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Weight at birth was also factor in the likelihood that a man would at some point try to take his own life, even more so when combined with below-average length.

Men who weighed under 2500 grammes but who reached normal height were more than 2.5 times as likely to make a violent suicide attempt.

And premature babies - both small and underweight - were, as adults, more than four times as likely to attempt violent suicide than persons born after 38 to 40 weeks of pregnancy.

Violent suicides attempts were defined as those involving hanging, the use of a firearm or knives, jumping from a height or in front of vehicles, and drowning.

The study, led by Ellenor Mittendorfer Rutz of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, also found that height was a factor in suicide attempts independent of birth weight or size.

Short men, even if normal height when babies, were more than half again as likely to try to do themselves in. More generally, the taller a man was, the less likely he was to attempt suicide.