Healthy mums produce bigger babies

thisisoxfordshire: Gillian Denton, pictured with son Noah, three, took part in the study. Picture: OX68433 Jon Lewis Buy this photo Gillian Denton, pictured with son Noah, three, took part in the study. Picture: OX68433 Jon Lewis

MORE than 600 pregnant women in Oxford were included in a study which has shown that healthy mothers around the world all have bigger babies.

The Oxford University study, called Intergrowth-21st, monitored the pregnancies of almost 60,000 women in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Kenya, Oman, the UK and USA.

Gillian Denton, from Sandford-on-Thames, was pregnant with Noah, now three, when she took part.

The 34-year-old said she and her husband, Travis, were happy to help.

She said: “I first got involved at my 12-week scan. We went back every few weeks for more scans, both in 2D and 3D.

“It was fantastic because we got to see the baby growing and how he was doing much more than other parents.

“It always put your mind at ease knowing that everything was okay and that everything was going well.”

She said: “After Noah was born they came and took his measurements and weight, which they did again when he was one year old.

“At two years they also did a general development test, they gave him coloured blocks to make towers and got him picking out pictures on a screen and so on.

“They always gave you their results so you knew what was going on, which was really interesting.”

The study shows that mothers who are healthy and well-educated all have babies of a similar size, regardless of where they live in the world.

Experts believe this shows race and ethnicity are not as important as the health and education of pregnant women.

Small size at birth has a significant impact on health in childhood and later in life, with increased risks of diabetes and heart disease.

Mrs Denton, an infant feeding lead at the special care baby unit at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, said: “It was nice to know that what you were doing will go on to help future pregnancies.

“With my job, baby growth is a really big part of that and it would be really interesting to know the results of the study to know how it could help what we do.

“Given that we do see all different types of women from different nationalities and cultures, it would be great to have that base line to look at for long-term growth.”

The study’s lead author Prof Jose Villar of the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology,said: “Currently we are not all equal at birth. But we can be.

“We can create a similar start for all by making sure mothers are well educated and nourished, by treating infection and by providing adequate antenatal care.

“Don’t tell us nothing can be done. Don’t say that women in some parts of the world have small children because they are predestined to do so.

“It’s simply not true.”

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