Impact of maternal body build characteristics on newborn size in two different European populations

Hum Biol. 1998 Aug;70(4):761-74.


The association patterns between maternal anthropometric characteristics (stature, prepregnancy weight, prepregnancy body mass index, pregnancy weight gain) and newborn size (birth weight, length, head circumference) were tested with 10,240 single births taking place between 1985 and 1995 in Vienna, Austria, and 3,452 single births taking place between 1989 and 1995 in Westerstede-Ammerland (Friesland), northern Germany. Maternal size and newborn size differed highly significantly (p < 0.001) between the two genetically and socioeconomically different population groups. Furthermore, the incidence of macrosomia among newborns (birth weight greater than 4000 g) was extraordinarily high (17.9%) in the Frisian group from northern Germany. In both populations taller and heavier women with a higher weight gain during pregnancy gave birth to heavier offspring. Nevertheless, the pregnancy weight gain, which indicates environmental conditions of the mother, had only a minor impact on newborn size compared with stature and prepregnancy weight, which reflect the maternal genetic potential to a higher degree.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Constitution / genetics*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia / genetics
  • Germany
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Male
  • Mothers*
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Weight Gain