How do babies worldwide measure up? Pretty strikingly similar, if the baby's moms are healthy, according to a new international study by INTERGROWTH-21st, led by Oxford University.
The study, published in The Lancet, Diabetes & Endocrinology, showed that while there's a huge disparity in newborn size that's often been attributed to race and ethnicity, the bigger factors in determining a healthy newborn size are a mother's health, educational level and nutritional status. In 60,000 pregnancies reviewed, from urban areas in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Kenya, Oman, the UK and USA, only 4 percent of the growth and birth size difference could be attributed to the baby's ethnicity. Instead, the mother's health, nutrition and education directly impacted the baby's growth during gestation, and after birth.
According to Science Daily: "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. "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."