Women who are short are twice as likely to give birth to a premature baby as tall women, suggests a new study.
The shorter the mother is, the more are her chances of delivering a premature baby, according to researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden and University of Auckland in New Zealand.
Among short mothers (measuring 155 centimetres or less), 9.4% of babies were born premature (at less than 37 weeks of gestation), and 1.1% very premature (less than 32 weeks of gestation), researchers said.
For tall mothers (179 centimetres or taller), these figures were 4.7% and 0.5% respectively, they said.
For the study, researchers examined data collected between 1991 and 2009 on more than 192,000 Swedish women aged over 18 years.
Premature birth is a major case of newborn death worldwide, and is linked to serious health problems in the short and long term.
“Around half of all premature births are ‘spontaneous’, apparently with complex and often unknown causes,” said Jose Derraik from University of Auckland.
“Based on mounting evidence, mother’s height needs to be considered when evaluating a woman’s risk of delivering a premature baby,” said Derraik.
Researchers do not know exactly what is behind this association between the mothers’ height and spontaneous premature birth, but evidence from other studies suggests it could be anatomical constraints, Derraik said.
“Short mothers tend to have less space for the babies to grow before birth, and this seems to lead to premature delivery in some women,” he said.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
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