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Hum Biol. 1981 Sep;53(3):303-12.

Maternal stature, fertility and infant mortality.



380 women of parity 1 or more living in coffee plantations of the Pacific lowlands of Guatemala were studied during the 18-month period from October 1977 to March 1979 to investigate the relationship between maternal stature, parity, offspring mortality, and number of surviving children. Average height was 142 cm or 4 feet 8 inches, average age was 28 years, and average parity was 4.4 children per woman: average number of surviving children per woman was 3. Simple correlation analysis shows that although shorter women appeared to have greater parities but fewer surviving children, the relationships were not statistically significant (p.05). However, when age and/or parity were adjusted, the association between maternal stature and number of surviving children became statistically significant (p.05). Children of shorter mothers exhibited high mortality rates which were not affected by adjustments for maternal age and parity (p.001). A possible explanation of the link between maternal stature and offspring survival is that taller women generally have heavier babies. This study suggests that maternal height can be used to identify infants at high mortality risk; this can have potential use in developing nations where many women do not get examined more than once during pregnancy.

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