Here I am, 6 feet tall, and the only things I can reliably do with my height is bump my head and trip over my own feet. But now a new study shows that kids born to taller mamas may actually fare better. Who knew?
The US-run study was performed in India, where the average height for women is less than that of Westernized freaks like me women. Researchers found that across a sampling of households, including 50,000 children,
Children of mothers shorter than 4 foot 9 inches were 70 percent more likely to die by age 5 than those whose mothers were at least 5 foot 3 inches tall.
The average height for Indian women is 150 cm, or 4’11”. For women in the United States, the average height is 163.7 cm, or almost 5’4″. So, Indian women just below average height had children with a higher infant mortality rate than taller women.
For my friends who I used as armrests when we were growing up are a little less that average in the height department, never fear. This isn’t a warning to women worldwide, researchers say.
Researchers warn not to apply these findings to all countries, but rather to look at the implications of what a mother’s height tells us about her overall health, especially in the developing world.
According to one, Associate Professor S. V. Subramanian of the Harvard School of Public Health, this
…suggests the presence of inter-generational transfer of poor health from mother to offspring. Since maternal height itself is a consequence of a mother’s childhood environment, our study is suggestive of the long-run and durable adverse impact of poor childhood conditions of the mother on the health of her offspring 15 to 30 years later.
As in, maternal height may reveal poor health when she was a child due to her own mother’s health (genetics) or environment. Later, it may also affect her own children.
More research is still needed, but it’s certainly an interesting topic. Especially because this sample was taken from India’s National Family Health Survey, a respresentative smpling of the population. It may not simply be a socioeconomic effect.
Say researchers: It’s a useful benchmark that,
reflects a mother’s health stock accumulated through her life’s course.
Image: Pratham Books on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.