Little women and premature birth

I've noticed several tiny women running around the NICU, myself included, and that the taller women seem to be moms of multiples. I also read in a book that women under 5' 3" are at increased risk of pre-e (which is what got me). Anyone else come across anything linking height/size to premature delivery? Thanks!

12 Replies

  • In reply to alicerich86:

    Very valuable and comprehensive information!
  • Yes I have heard women 5 ft 2 in and below are at risk for pre-eclampsia. I am sorry about your experience.
  • Every expectant mom during pregnancy has to know how to bear and give birth to a healthy baby, what problems can occur in the postpartum period and during the first three years of a child's life, what inspections need to pass before and during pregnancy, how to choose the name of the future baby, how to eat and more. These and many other questions can be found in the top 15 books on pregnancy:
  • Unrelated to height:

    That same book mentioned something about being malnourished--in my case I got sick 3 times a day for 5 months--but none of my doctors were concerned about how sick I was or mentioned that it was a risk factor for pre-e.
  • Re: The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth
    It *would* be an interesting research project.

    The information I found was only about height as it relates to c-sections. And, that book is on the shelves of the NICU's library..... sorry!

    Glad Maggs could provide a concrete source.

  • The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth
    Hi Karen,

    I saw it in "The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth" by Sheila Kitzenger, 1990, page 127. It states you are more likely to develop pre-e if you are under 5' 3".

    The real data is in the NICUs--it would make an excellent thesis for someone!

  • Re: Little women and premature birth
    Hi, ladies. I'm Karen, and I work at the March of Dimes. Could you share your source with me? A title or an author? I asked the staff in our Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center about the relationship between short height and premature birth (and preeclampsia), and we haven't come up with anything definitive. They found an article about teens that talks about short height (immature body structure due to young age) as a possible factor in premature birth. But that was an indication of the age of the mother, not just about height.

    So please pass on your source if you can. I'd like to share it with my colleagues.


  • I found it in a book too--we should go back and see where we each read it cause we are probably all looking at the same book :) The book I was reading linked height to preeclampsia (hey NIH is making progress identifying the proteins that cause pre-e!). In any case 4 months in the NICU has made me a firm believer that an awful lot of us are tiny--thin and/or short. I've met two women who had no other reason for delivering early than their size. It may not be that size "causes" prematurity but that it complicates things--not enough blood to go around, or too much of a strain somewhere or another!
  • I have read the same thing also. Im normal height 5 ft 6 ins, but very thin build, weighing only 103 pounds after having had 3 babies! My first baby was born at 36 weeks 1 day due to placenta problems and she was 5 lb 6.9 oz (10th percentile for gestational age). Second baby was 37 weeks 3 days due to placenta problems again and he was 6 lb 9 oz (25th percentile for gestaional age) My youngest was 33 weeks 5 days due to placenta problems and pPROM. SHe was 4 lb 6 oz (10th percnetil) and my doc says that my build does factor into my high risk pregnancies.
  • height matters
    GREAT question! I am 4'11 and gave birth to a 28 weeker due to PPROM. Before Owen was born, my MIL asked me several times if I would need a c-section because I am so short. Honestly, I was getting annoyed.. My doctor certainly did not say anything about my height and the likelihood of a c-section and I also thought .... There are *a lot* of women around the world who are my size and who didn't need a c-section!! Plus.... my MIL is only an inch or two taller than me! (So I wondered why she would be so persistent in asking this Question!). After Owen was born I did a lot of research about PPROM and prematurity. His isolette happened to be near the NICU's library which we were free to peruse. Lo and behold I came across a book that stated that short women *are* more likely to have c-sections. :eek: So... at least in terms of need for c-sections, height does matter. This definitely made me wonder if there is also a relationship between height and premature birth. Let us hope that someday we will know for sure!!

    Best -
  • For Maggs
    I want to join Donna in congratulating you and your baby on reaching 4 pounds 3 ounces! Wonderful news.

    The March of Dimes medical staff have extensively reviewed the research on preterm birth. From what we know now, being short does not appear to be a risk factor for having a premature baby. Our Web site has information on the known risk factors. Here's the link:

    What we are learning is that preterm birth is complex and is probably caused by several things. But there is still so much that we don't know. That is why the March of Dimes is conducting our national prematurity campaign and supporting more research. To learn more about the campaign, please go to this Web screen:

    Best wishes,
    Education Department
    March of Dimes
  • First I want to say congrats on you little one getting to 4 pounds 3 ounces!!! That's awesome!!!
    I don't know about preterm birth and shorter women, but I have met (online) a lot of women who are short and had babies that were IUGR or SGA (small for gestational age).
    Maybe the moderators know more about this....