A study from Spain shows that girls who weighed less than 6 pounds at birth usually start puberty early and because of this, end up shorter than girls who are heavier at birth.

Long bones grow from special growth plates near their ends. When a girl starts menstruating, these growth plates close forever and the only way she can grow after that is sideways. So the earlier a woman goes into puberty, the less time she has to grow which explains why many girls who are the tallest in their classes at the sixth grade end up relatively short as adults.

Women who give birth to small babies usually do not gain the recommended 20 pounds during pregnancy and lack of calories during pregnancy causes the baby to gain more weight during early childhood. Eating extra calories and being heavy during the early years brings on the start of menstruation, which stops growth and prevents a girl from continuing to grow.

Ibanez, A Ferrer, MV Marcos, FR Hierro, F deZegher. Early puberty: Rapid progression and reduced final height in girls with low birth weight. Pediatrics, 2000, Vol 106, Iss 5, Part 1, pp U73-U75 Address Ibanez L, Univ Barcelona, Hosp Sant Joan de Deu, Endocrinol Unit, Passeig Sant Joan de Deu 2, Barcelona 08950, SPAIN

Checked 9/3/05

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