A baby’s size at birth predetermines its future health, and according to a large study of Oxford University researchers, one of the key factors in infant size is the mother’s overall health, not their race or ethnicity.
The study, as reported by TIME.com, was conducted to create international standards for babies’ optimal growth, and involved over 60,00 pregnancies in urban areas in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Oman, Kenya, the UK and the US. Throughout the gestation period, the researchers measured the babies’ bone growth via ultrasound. The length and head circumference were then measured around the time they were born. They discovered that the growth of the babies in the womb and their birth size were similar across countries, granted that the mothers were healthy and well-educated.
It has been a common misconception that certain races are destined to have large babies, while other mothers from other races are expected to bear smaller infants. This study proves that every baby has an equal chance of being born with a healthy weight as long as the mother is well-nourished and well-educated, but this also shows that moms who are less fortunate already have a disadvantage.
Lead study author Jose Villar, a professor in the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at University of Oxford said in a statement, “Currently we are not all equal at birth. But we can be. 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 researchers emphasized that if all mothers can get access to proper prenatal care and get educated for childcare, everyone can have a good shot for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.