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The shorter the woman, the short her pregnancy

Staff writer |
A pregnant woman's height may affect her risk for preterm birth, a new study suggests. Researchers looked at data on nearly 3,500 Nordic women and their babies.

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They found that shorter mothers had shorter pregnancies, smaller babies and a higher risk for preterm birth.

"Our finding shows that a mother's height has a direct impact on how long her pregnancy lasts," said researcher Dr. Louis Muglia, an investigator with the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative.

"The explanation for why this happens is unclear but could depend not only on unknown genes but also on woman's lifetime of nutrition and her environment," Muglia said in a March of Dimes news release.

That said, short women shouldn't worry that they're destined to deliver prematurely. The study only found an association between short stature and preterm birth, not a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

Preterm birth, which takes place before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of death of newborns in the United States, where more than 450,000 babies are born early each year. The country's preterm birth rate is worse than many other wealthy nations, the March of Dimes said.

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