I am 4′ 11″ in shoes, and weigh 85 pounds soaking wet. I quit growing when I was 12 years old, and have always been the smallest one in class growing up. I was also born just over 2 pounds, and was a tiny, icky looking little baby, and didn’t walk until I was 2 years old. I wondered if my current height and weight related to my low birth weight, or is it entirely coincidental that I was born small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and stayed miniature sized my whole life? Here is what I found out.
According to kidshealth.org, genetics and diet following birth will determine the size of a premature baby as an adult. They state that, “By the time they’re adults, kids tend to resemble their parents in size. Genetics, as well as good nutrition and your attention, will play a large part in determining how your baby grows in the years to come.”
Which makes sense. My sister, just 11 months younger than me was also born premature at just over 3 pounds at birth, but is currently 5′ 3″ and 180 pounds. We were both tiny as kids, but she as a teenager gained a lot of weight, and also grew about 4 inches throughout puberty, whereas I just stopped growing entirely in Junior High.
Kidshealth.org turned me on to another discovery- first-born children are often born at a smaller weight and are smaller adults than their following siblings. I am a first-born. Perhaps this has something to do with my tiny stature.
So just when I figured that my height and weight are just coincidental to my being a preemie, I found a study that actually supported my theory that I am small now because I was small when I was born. Studies are on-going as far as premature babies and how they grow into adulthood, but a UK study by Dr. Richard Cooke at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital has been studying premature babies versus average weight babies since 1980. He states that “There was a bit more asthma among the adults who were low weight babies. The adults who weighed less than normal when they were born tended to be shorter and weighed less than other adults. On the other hand, they had normal social relationships. Their chances of having a boyfriend/girlfriend was no different from other people’s. Their sex lives were similar (whether they were sexually active or not).”
So apparently us preemies can date and have sex (ha ha), and there IS a possibility that short stature and weight can be attributed to being below birth weight when we’re born. All I know is that the only thing I suffer from having been born prematurely is sleep Apnea, which comes and goes, and mild asthma, which I don’t know is related to my premature birth weight or not.
So am I small because I was born prematurely? Who knows? All I know is all my cousins and Aunts and sisters are at least 2 inches taller than me, and my second shortest sibling has me by about 50 pounds and about 2 inches. Maybe it’s a coincidence that I am a small adult due to being born premature, maybe not. All I really care about is that I am healthy and happy.