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Pediatr Res. 1999 Nov;46(5):491-5.

Prediction of male adult stature using anthropometric data at birth: a nationwide population-based study.

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Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Short stature and excess weight in adulthood are both associated with an increased risk of health problems. In a population-based investigation, data on birth length, birth weight, and gestational age for males born in Sweden in 1976 were used to predict the risk of being short or overweight in adulthood. The Swedish Birth Register was used to identify singleton males, born to Nordic mothers, who were without malformations and alive at 18 y of age. After individual record linkage between the Birth Register and the Swedish Conscript Register, information about height and weight at 18-21 y was obtained for 90% (n = 39901) of the birth cohort. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the risk of being short or overweight at conscription. The odds ratio (OR) was used to estimate relative risk. At conscription, mean height (+/-SD) was 179.5+/-6.6 cm, mean weight 72.1+/-11.2 kg, and mean body mass index 22.3+/-3.1 kg/m2. The risk of short adult stature (<166.3 cm) was associated with being short for gestational age (OR = 5.9), having a low birth weight for gestational age (OR = 1.7), and being born at a gestational age below 32 wk (OR = 2.6). The risk of being overweight (body mass index > +2 SD) was primarily associated with a high ponderal index (> +2 SD; OR = 1.8). In conclusion, anthropometric birth data are better predictors of short stature than of being overweight in adulthood. Among anthropometric data at birth, birth length is the most important predictor of adult height.

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