April 21, 2010

Maternal Height and Risk of Child Mortality and Undernutrition

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Nutrition, Baltimore, Maryland.

JAMA. 2010;303(15):1539-1540. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.469

Maternal undernutrition, embodied by short stature and a low body mass index (BMI) and caused by chronic energy and micronutrient deficiencies, is highly prevalent in many developing countries. Short stature (<145 cm) affects more than 10% of women of reproductive age across south-central Asia, but only 1% to 2% in sub-Saharan Africa, whereas a low BMI (<18.5) is found among 20% or more women in both regions.1 Both indicators can predict adverse pregnancy outcomes. Maternal height is a strong predictor of birth size, independent of pre-pregnancy BMI and weight gain during pregnancy. Short maternal stature is highly associated with uterine volume and blood flow and is associated with risks of fetal growth restriction, cesarean delivery,2 and cephalo-pelvic disproportion, the risk of which is likely modified by newborn size.3

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