Shorter Mums Have Shorter Pregnancies

It's a little surprising, but new pregnancy research has found that shorter women are more likely to have shorter pregnancies.

The research was published in the journal of PLOS Medicine and found that not only do shorter women have smaller babies, but they typically have a shorter pregnancy as well.

The research studied over 3,000 women in Finland, Denmark and Norway, and discovered a link between the height of mothers and the length of their pregnancies.

The study's author Dr. Louis Muglia explained to Fit Pregnancy that shorter mums are at risk of having premature babies. "We found when we ran our analysis that mum's height was a risk factor for having a preterm birth, so we decided to investigate this further."

An expected link between mum and baby size was found in the study, with small mothers making small babies. However pregnancy length was also impacted by the mother's height. This has been attributed pregnant mothers' shorter stature shaping the foetal environment.

Dr Muglia explains this further: "Whatever influences maternal height, such as mum's genes but also her nutrition and other health habits, influence how long she will carry her pregnancy," Dr Muglia says.

"We think this relationship may exist either because mother's height influences uterine size or pelvic size, or height is related to mum's metabolism and how much energy she can supply to a growing baby prior to birth."

So what does this mean for expectant mums who are vertically challenged? Are they destined to have a premature baby?

The short answer is 'no'.

All the research found was a pattern and this news certainly doesn't mean every short mum will go into early labour.

Dr Muglia reassures mums that their height is only one factor that influences whether a baby might be premature, and reminds mothers that while they cannot control their height, there are other factors that they can control which can assist them with carrying their baby to full-term.

"Making sure to optimise other factors related to pregnancy health is key. These include being a healthy weight at the start of pregnancy, having appropriate pregnancy weight gain, not smoking, and waiting an appropriate time between pregnancies [18-23 months]." Dr Muglia told Fit Pregnancy.

The new research finding is a great step forward for understanding what triggers premature births to hopefully prevent them in the future.