Might sound unlikely, but your height may play a role in determining when you go into labor! A new study published in the journal PLOS Medicine linked a mother’s height to her chances of preterm birth. The study, at the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, found that the shorter the woman, the shorter her pregnancy may be.
In the United States, around 500,000 babies are born prematurely each year. In fact, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of preterm birth among all developed countries.
And it’s not just early births that are the problem – premature babies are at higher risk of serious illnesses and health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, complications that arise from premature births result in one-third of infant deaths each year.
What Your Height Has To Do With It
This study tracked the pregnancies and births of 3500 moms and babies in Finland, Norway, and Denmark. While the study did not draw conclusions as to why the mothers’ height plays a role, some experts are offering their own ideas. Height, they say, may affect a woman’s uterus and pelvis size – meaning that babies conceived by these moms would have less room to develop, and this might prompt an early exit.
What You Can Do
So you’re short in stature and freaking out about it now? Relax. Take a deep breath.
Louis Muglia, the director at the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth and the lead author of the study, reminds us that many factors play a role in premature birth. This includes everything from the mother’s weight to disease history to stress, contributing toward a woman’s risk of early labor. “[Height] is part of the equation,” says Muglia.
The best thing shorter moms-to-be can do for their little ones is to be at their healthiest throughout pregnancy. Be mindful about weight gain, never miss a prenatal appointment, and be sure to take in the right nutrients through a prenatal vitamin and balanced diet.