The ecology of height: the effect of microbial transmission on human height

Perspect Biol Med. 2002 Fall;45(4):475-98. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2002.0064.


The height that adult humans achieve results from a complex interplay between genetic endowment and environmental exposures during development. We hypothesize that exposure to microbes--both exogenous pathogens and endogenous biota--are critical environmental determinants of the expression of human height in a community. Both experimental studies and historical changes in height in relation to presumed microbial transmission support this hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Height*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Digestive System / microbiology
  • Ecology*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Menarche
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Puberty
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Socioeconomic Factors