Does maternal stature modify the association between infants who are small or large for gestational age and adverse perinatal outcomes? A retrospective cohort study

BJOG. 2023 Apr;130(5):464-475. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.17350. Epub 2022 Dec 12.


Objective: To investigate the effect of maternal stature on adverse birth outcomes and quantify perinatal risks associated with small- and large-for-gestational age infants (SGA and LGA, respectively) born to mothers of short, average, and tall stature.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: USA, 2016-2017.

Population: Women with a singleton live birth (N = 7 325 741).

Methods: Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, short and tall stature were defined as <10th and >90th centile of the maternal height distribution. Modified Poisson regression was used to estimate adjusted risk ratios (aRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).

Main outcome measures: Preterm birth (<37 weeks of gestation), neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission and severe neonatal morbidity/mortality (SNMM).

Results: With increased maternal height, the risk of adverse outcomes increased in SGA infants and decreased in LGA infants compared with infants appropriate-for-gestational age (AGA) (p < 0.001). Infants who were SGA born to women of tall stature had the highest risk of NICU admission (aRR 1.98, 95% CI 1.91-2.05; p < 0.001), whereas LGA infants born to women of tall stature had the lowest risk (aRR 0.85, 95% CI 0.82-0.88; p < 0.001), compared with AGA infants born to women of average stature. LGA infants born to women of short stature had an increased risk of NICU admission and SNMM, compared with AGA infants born to women of average stature (aRR 1.32, 95% CI 1.27-1.38; aRR 1.21, 95% CI 1.13-1.29, respectively).

Conclusions: Maternal height modifies the association between SGA and LGA status at birth and neonatal outcomes. This quantification of risk can assist healthcare providers in monitoring fetal growth, and optimising neonatal care and follow-up.

Keywords: birthweight for gestational age; large for gestational age; maternal stature; neonatal morbidity; neonatal mortality; preterm birth; small for gestational age.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth* / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth* / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies