News / Health

Taller Moms Have Healthier Kids, Survey of Poorer Countries Shows

Pattern seen in 50 countries in children up to age 5

A new study of more than 50 low- and middle-income countries, finds a consistent association between maternal height and offspring health.
A new study of more than 50 low- and middle-income countries, finds a consistent association between maternal height and offspring health.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

Taller mothers are more likely to have children who are healthier — indeed, their children are more likely not just to thrive, but to survive — compared to children of shorter mothers. The findings come from a massive new study of millions of children in low- and middle-income countries.

"The key finding of this paper was to show a consistent association between maternal height and offspring health, which was mainly defined in terms of offspring mortality by age five and the risk of experiencing a failure in growth," says S.V. Subramanian of the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the lead author of the study, published this week in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

A mother's height reflects a lifetime of nutritional and social factors that can influence her health and, thus, growth.

Subramanian and his colleagues combined the results of more than 100 separate surveys in 54 countries. Previous studies found that a mother's height could predict infant mortality and other conditions right around the time of birth. But this study considered the health of children up to age five, as measured by weight, growth and survival.

"I think this was among the first studies to show that the effect of shorter height is kind of long-lasting. It certainly goes into infancy and childhood," Subramanian says.

Lots of factors determine whether a child survives and thrives through the first years of life, but Subramanian says if you want to look at one simple predictor, the mother's height is it.

"For growth failure, height is the most important factor, the most important. More than the wealth of the household for the child. More than the education of the mother."

And the relationship was seen consistently in almost every country Subramanian reviewed.

"The association — and to some extent also the strength of the association — does not seem to vary. In 52 out of 54 countries, we find the same association."

The two exceptions, incidentally, were Gabon and Comoros.  

The Harvard researcher says that while the association is clear, the 'why' still needs more work.

"At this point we haven't quite put our hands on what could be the precise mechanisms through which they're occurring, this association, but this certainly provides [a] solid framework to now focus on what are the different mechanisms through which height could influence offspring health, certainly into infancy and childhood."

Subramanian says the study highlights the long-term effects of factors that contribute to development, such as nutrition, literacy and social environment. It suggests that the environment in which a girl grows up can affect the health of her child a decade or more later, as the child grows up.  

You May Like

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurd President Urges World Community to Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid