London: If you are not blessed with an hour glass figure or a good height simply blame your parents, for a study has shown that mothers influence the weight of their children, while fathers tend to determine their height.
Researchers began to look at genetic and environmental influences on the growth of foetuses and young children in 1999. They concentrated on the genetic make-up of fathers in their study of 1,000 families.
About 1,150 children were measured at birth, and again at 12 weeks, a year and two years. Height, weight and head circumference were recorded. Blood readings were also collected from the children's umbilical cords.
Initial results show that taller fathers produce longer babies at birth. However, when it came to body fat, the experts from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and the Peninsula Medical School found that the mother's body mass index, or BMI, was the main determinant.
"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 definite impact on their baby's growth, with taller fathers having longer and heavier babies,” research midwife Dr Beatrice Knight was quoted by the Daily Mail, as saying.
"Our study is quite unusual in that both parents are included, not just the mothers, and one of the main aspects of our research is how fathers can influence the growth of their babies,” she added.
Dr Knight said that data on fathers was essential to mapping the genetic influences on babies' growth.
"Despite the initial reluctance of many fathers to have blood taken we have managed to obtain a vast amount of quality information from the men, for which we are most grateful," she said.
Researchers say that the growth of babies in the womb and in the early years of life may be crucial for their development and in helping to predict future health problems, particularly diabetes.