How long a healthy pregnancy can last has always been a bit of a tricky one to predict. While a precise date of conception can help, some say a healthy pregnancy can vary by as much as five weeks. But with new research from the journal of PLOS Medicine it seems that a mother’s height can directly influence whether that new baby decides to come too soon, or not.
The study looked at 3,485 Nordic women and their babies (from Finland, Denmark, and Norway) and found that maternal height plays a key role in the fetal environment, influencing the length of pregnancy, as well aspremature birth. In simpler terms, shorter mothers have shorter pregnancies.
In Australia, around 8 per cent of babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation) every year. Worldwide, that’s 15 million that are born prematurely. And while many of these babies grow up to be strong and healthy children, there is a per cent that don’t.
The major goal of this study was to identify genes that play a role in fetal growth and length of pregnancy. They wanted to know how a woman’s height could influence the baby’s length from the genes she passed on — and it seems they did exactly that.
“Our finding shows that a mother’s height has a direct impact on how long her pregnancy lasts,” said Louis Muglia, the primary investigator and co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre.”
“The explanation for why this happens is unclear but could depend not only on unknown genes but also on woman’s lifetime of nutrition and her environment.”
These findings can potentially improve the understanding of why shorter pregnancy outcomes are associated with disease and illness during childhood adulthood and could help in the design of strategies to prevent these.