Can a baby's length at birth indicate future height?

Q: My husband and I are short, but our newborn is in the 90th percentile for length. Will she be tall?

A: Not necessarily. A baby's length at birth is not a reliable indicator of her future height. Small parents can have a very large baby, for a number of reasons that usually have more to do with pregnancy nutrition than genetics. For instance, a short mom with even a mild case of gestational diabetes can have an infant who is large for her age, in terms of weight, length, and head circumference. Your family traits will come into play soon, though. Usually by the second half of your baby's first year, her growth will fall more in line with your and your husband's childhood patterns. However, even then it can be difficult to predict what your daughter's final adult height will be, so you'll just have to wait and see. --Cammie McGovern

Originally published in the June 2001 issue of Parents magazine.  Updated 2009.


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