Low birth weight does not predict the ontogeny of relative leg length of infants and children: An allometric analysis of the NHANES III sample

Authors

  • Barry Bogin,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK
    • School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK
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  • Jack Baker

    1. Geospatial and Population Studies and Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, MSC063510, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131
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Abstract

Previous research links both low birth weight (LBW) and relative leg length (RLL) to a similar set of adult pathologies, including type II diabetes, coronary vascular disease, and some cancers. Historically, LBW has been frequently used as a broad indicator of the quality of the intrauterine environment, while RLL has been considered a sensitive measure of childhood environmental quality. While these observations have been taken to suggest that these measures reflect independent exposures at different life-stages, their mutual association with a similar set of later pathologies makes this assumption less certain than it may have previously seemed. Nationally representative data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) are used to test the hypothesis that LBW predicts reductions in the development of leg length relative to stature. After controls for important socioeconomic exposures that might confound measurement of such a relationship, we find statistical and biological evidence that variation in birth weight and variation in the development of leg length relative to stature (RLL) are independent. The results suggest that these two measures may represent independent information on prenatal and postnatal environmental quality. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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