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Southhampton University's Professor David Phillips
"Our study suggests babies who are small at birth have long-term psychological changes towards finding a mate later in life"
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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 01:27 GMT 02:27 UK
Small men 'less likely to marry'
Baby being weighed BBC
Low birth weight could affect your chances of marriage
Men with low birth weight may be doomed to the single life, say researchers.

Scientists from Southampton and Finland found that early growth restriction could play a part in partner selection. And that this could lead to a life of health disadvantages.

Reports have already shown that unmarried men have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and a shorter lifespan than their married counterparts.

Men who were small at birth are less likely to marry

Professor David Phillips, of Southampton
Report author David Phillips, professor of Endocrine and Metabolic Programming at Southampton General Hospital, studied the birth records of over 3,500 men born in Finland between 1924 to 1933.

Their birth data were then linked to school records of their height and weight at the age of 15, and to census information on their marital status and income obtained in 1970.

The researchers found the 259 men who had never married were 2 cm shorter, 2.4 kg lighter, and thinner than the other men by the time they reached 15.

Other factors

They also discovered that those affected tended to come from the lower social classes and had less money than their larger school friends.

These finding were then confirmed by carrying out a similar study in the UK on over 1,600 men born in Hertfordshire between 1920 to 1930.

These men were quizzed in 1991, when they were aged between 59 and 73, and asked about their marital status, heights and weights.

The 132 English men who had never married were found to be 2.1 cm smaller, 1.1 kg heavier and had a higher body-mass index than the married men.

Professor Phillips said that although social and biological factors were important that the association between birth weight and marital status remained important.

He said: "Men who were small at birth are less likely to marry. Clearly the factors that lead men to marry are complex and include both social and biological ones.

"However our data raises the possibility that early growth restriction influences the factors involved in partner selection, which may include socialisation, sexuality, personality and emotional responses.

"Links between marital status and health may be established during intrauterine life."

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