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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 12:26 GMT
How short fathers affect babies
Image of mum, dad and baby
Genes play a part in determining height and weight
Scientists have worked out which parent to blame if you are unhappy with your weight or height.

Fathers appear to determine the height of their child while mothers tend to influence how much body fat they will have, a study suggests.

The work is ongoing, but researchers from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital say the initial results are clear - taller dads make longer babies.

How fat the father is does not seem to influence a child's fatness, however.

In contrast, whether the mother is fat or not has a major effect on the birth weight of the baby, the team found.

This is likely to be down to the environment in the womb - with overweight mums tending to have higher levels of sugar in their blood.

We have confirmed that a father's height also has a direct impact on their baby's growth, with taller dads having longer and heavier babies
Research midwife Dr Beatrice Knight

Research midwife Dr Beatrice Knight stressed both genetic and environmental factors influence in a child's growth.

The early growth of the baby, both in the womb and in the first few years of life, may be crucial for the development of their health in later life, she said.

By identifying the genes involved in this early growth, she hopes to develop a better understanding of how these things are linked.

They have been studying about 1,000 families, measuring the weight and height of the mums, dads and their babies in their first two years of life.

Dr Knight said: "Obviously one of the biggest influences on a baby's growth is the size of the mother.

"But we have confirmed that a father's height also has a direct impact on their baby's growth, with taller dads having longer and heavier babies."

She added: "Despite the initial reluctance of many fathers to have bloods taken, we have managed to obtain a vast amount of high quality information from the men in our study, for which we are enormously grateful. This has proved essential in trying to identify the genetic influences on babies' growth."

Height prediction tool devised
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