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A new study claims short women are twice as likely as tall women to have a premature labour.

The reason is unknown, but the New Zealand and Swedish researchers behind the study suggested it may be because shorter women have smaller pelvises.

“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,” said lead author Dr Jose Derraik.

The University of Auckland and Uppsala University researchers analysed data collected between 1991 and 2009 on more than 192,000 Swedish women aged over 18.

They found the odds of having a premature baby rises as the mothers height decreases.

Among mothers 155cm tall or shorter, 9.4 per cent of babies were born at less than 37 weeks of gestation, and 1.1 per cent at less than 32 weeks.

For mothers 179cm or taller, the figures were 4.7 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

Premature birth is a major case of newborn death worldwide, and is linked to serious health problems in the short and long terms.

“Around half of all premature births are spontaneous, apparently with complex and often unknown causes,” said Dr Derraik.

Previous worldwide studies have shown that maternal height may play a role, but scientists believe other factors such as ethnicity and affluence may be involved.

The women in the study were of Nordic ethnicity and came from a population of relatively even levels of affluence.

The researchers concluded that maternal height is one of the factors that needs to be considered when evaluating a woman’s risk of delivering a premature baby.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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  • omg I know a few shorties who had premmies

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  • I think when it comes down to it, with birth, anything can happen. I’m of average height and all four of mine were early – the closest to the birthdate was 2 weeks early and my last was 4 weeks early. When bub is ready, bub is ready!

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  • i am 152cm tall and both my children were overdue as well….although i was inducd at 41 weeks with my second as drs were worried baby wouldnt fit through my pelvis.

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  • I know a Mum who as short and fairly slim. Her first baby was 6 weeks premature and stayed in hospital for nearly 4 weeks after the Mum went home. The second was 3 weeks early, but the Mum had to stay in hospital for longer than normal because of tearing and the number of stitches. As routine they gave her Penicillin to prevent infection which was then discovered she was allergic to it, came up in big bluish lumps including on the soles of her feet and literally couldn’t walk on them properly for a couple of days.

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  • I’m short (156cm) and both my bubs were late! 1st one was 2 weeks overdue and 2nd was 1 week overdue.

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  • Interesting. I’m short and my first 2 were 6 and 7 days “early”. Wuth my 3rd I was 6 days late, though, so who knows.

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  • Interesting! Never thought about that. I’m kind of short (160 cm) but my daughter was born naturally at 39 weeks and 6 days.

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  • A very interesting article which brings about further thinking.

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  • Interesting. I wonder if it’s just a coincidence

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  • I am not sure about that. I have few girl friends that are short and not one of them had premature babies. I had 2 planned c-sections at 39 weeks, so I can’t say anything about me.

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  • Interesting – certainly never heard that theory before!

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  • It’s good that they’re getting closer to gaming answers. I do believe they gave a way to go yet

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  • Just like rachelvk, I too am relatively short 5’3″ and I was late with my baby and also had to be induced.

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  • Very interesting. Although I am 5’2″ (i.e. short) and I was still late with my first (had to be induced!). Baby 2 was a planned early c section so that doesn’t count.

    Reply

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