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Babies Born to Healthy Women are around the same Size

Update Date: Jul 07, 2014 01:20 PM EDT

When women have a normal pregnancy without complications, their newborns are generally healthy. In a new study, researchers compared fetal growth and birth size of babies who were born to healthy women throughout the world and found that they were all around the same size at both points in time.

For this study, the team headed by researchers from Oxford University analyzed data on nearly 60,000 pregnant women from Brazil, China, India, Italy, Kenya, Oman, the United Kingdom and the United States who were a part of an international study known as INTERGRWOTH-21st. The researchers used ultrasound scans throughout the women's pregnancies to measure the fetuses' bone growth. At delivery, the researchers measured the infants' head circumference and length.

Prior to this study, some researchers suggested that race and ethnicity could play a factor in a baby's size. The findings of this study, however, contradicted those theories. Instead, the researchers found that a woman's health, nutrition, education, and level of medical care affected the size of the baby. The researchers reported that babies who were born to healthy mothers that were well-educated and well-nourished had similar sizes in the womb and at birth regardless of their place of birth and ethnicity.

"Currently we are not all equal at birth. But we can be," said the lead author Professor Jose Villar of the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Oxford according to the press release. "We can create a similar start for all by making sure mothers are well educated and nourished, by treating infection and by providing adequate antenatal care. Don't tell us nothing can be done. Don't say that women in some parts of the world have small children because they are predestined to do so. It's simply not true."

The study, "The likeliness of fetal growth and newborn size across non-isolated populations in the INTERGROWTH-21st Project: the Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study and Newborn Cross-Sectional Study," which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was published in The Lancet, Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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