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Keywords:

  • Short maternal stature;
  • obstetrical risk;
  • asphyxia;
  • intrauterine growth retardation

We have carried out a case-controlled study on relations between short stature (i.e. less than 156 cm tall) and problems with childbirth in Danish women. Data obtained from 182 pregnant, short women (short mothers) were compared with those obtained from a control group of 2116 pregnant women who were between 166 and 175 cm tall (control mothers). The prevalence rate for acute cesarean section was three-fold greater in short mothers than in controls, and the prevalence rate for elective cesarean section was twice as high in short mothers as in controls. Moreover, the prevalence rates of intra-uterine asphyxia, intra-uterine growth retardation and low Apgar scores were higher in babies of short mothers than in those of control mothers, despite the increased level of obstetric intervention in the former group. Since the findings show that short stature in pregnant women is an obstetrical risk factor, we recommend that it should be given attention in order to detect early signs of intra-uterine asphyxia and to apply the best form of active management of labor if necessary.