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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More