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

Thomas Pollet, Daniel Nettle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-269
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume20
Issue number3
Early online date2 Jan 2008
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

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