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Taller women do better in a stressed environment: Height and reproductive success in rural Guatemalan women

Lookup NU author(s): Thomas Pollet, Professor Daniel Nettle


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Previous research on the relationship between height and reproductive success in women has produced mixed results. One possible explanation for these is mediation by ecological factors, such as environmental stress. Here we investigate female height and reproductive success under conditions of environmental stress (poverty) using a large scale dataset from Guatemala (n = 2,571). Controlling for educational attainment, age and ethnicity, we examined relationships between height and childlessness, occurrence of a stillbirth, fertility and child survival. There was no significant relationship between height and never haven given birth. Extremely short women had a significantly raised likelihood of experiencing stillbirth. There were curvilinear relationships between height and age at first birth, fertility, and survival rates for children. Overall, though, the penalties for short stature, particularly in terms of child survival, were far greater than those associated with extreme tallness, and so female height is positively associated with overall fitness in this population. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pollet TV, Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Human Biology

Year: 2008

Volume: 20

Issue: 3

Pages: 264-269

ISSN (print): 1042-0533

ISSN (electronic): 1520-6300

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.20708

PubMed id: 18172869


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