Speed Reads

Science!

Study: Babies that weigh more at birth grow into higher-achieving children

A new study to be published soon in the journal American Economic Review offers good news for expectant mothers thinking, "Hurry up already, kiddo!"

The study found that babies taking their sweet time to emerge from their mothers' wombs are actually more likely to be healthier once they enter the world. And, those kids grow into higher-achieving schoolchildren. Researchers used 11 years' worth of data based on every child born in Florida in that time period. They found that the heavier a baby at birth, the better the child fared later in school. And, contrary to medical assumptions today that tout 39 weeks as the longest a fetus should experience gestation before doctors either induce birth or perform a cesarean section, the study's authors noted that more time in the womb is not a detriment, and that it may actually better a baby's health.

"Birth weight matters, and it matters for everyone," David N. Figlio, a professor at Northwestern University and co-author of the study, told The New York Times.

While the new data may suggest that it's time for health care professionals to revisit commonly held beliefs about pregnancy, Figlio was quick to point out that factors besides birth weight still matter when it comes to a baby's destiny. The study's author himself was only 5 pounds, 15 ounces at birth, after all.