A new study in the journal PLOS Medicine suggests that shorter women have shorter pregnancies and smaller babies.
Researchers studied 3,485 Nordic women and their babies, and found that maternal height — which is determined by genetic factors — influenced the length of pregnancy and frequency of prematurity.
According to the study, "The observed association between maternal height and fetal growth parameters is mainly defined by fetal genetics, and many of the adult height-associated SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, a type of genetic variant). The problem is that shorter pregnancies can mean premature birth."
This new information has far reaching consequences. All around the world, 15 million babies are born prematurely every year, affecting 1 in 9 babies in the United States alone.
"That a woman's height influences gestational length, independent of the genes she passes on that determine foetal size, is a major finding by our research networks, and the first of what we expect to be many genetic contributions," said Doctor Joe Leigh Simpson.
The hope is with more research, there will be ways to ensure a greater number of full term pregnancies, with fewer babies born with complications.