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How Does Birth Order Affect Physical Size?

Birth order might affect a person's physical size, with firstborn children being more likely to be taller and thinner than their younger siblings. A 2012 study — which can identify trends but cannot prove the causes — looked at 32 firstborn children younger than 12 years old. It found that although the firstborn children tended to be taller and thinner, they also might be more likely to have higher blood pressure and lowered insulin sensitivity. These conditions might serve as risk factors for developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes as adults. Researchers believe these differences from birth order could be the result of the uterus getting more nutrients after a first pregnancy because of improved placenta function.

More about birth order:

  • About 60% of all people in the world are firstborn children.

  • Studies have found that people tend to be more likely to associate with other people who have the same birth order. For example, a firstborn child is more likely to be friends with other firstborns — and someone who is an only child is more likely to associate with other only children.

  • Although there might be a slight increase in the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes among firstborn children, other risk factors that might be more important are diet, exercise and stress levels.

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More Info: nlm.nih.gov

Discuss this Article

missr
Post 6

This study does not really fit me. I am firstborn child, I'm the shortest, and can't say that I'm the thinnest. My man is the youngest in his family and he is the tallest and the thinnest. Perhaps this research applies only to children up to age 12.

bluefire
Post 5

Seems like an awfully small sample size to me, and I am doubting that the findings would hold for a much larger sample group.

It certainly doesn't hold for my family. I am the third born (two older brothers and one younger sister) and am definitely the tallest in my family. I also had the bad luck to have heart disease and other heart problems, including high blood pressure. I am also the thinnest. All this contradicts the findings. Of course, I am just one person, but I don't see the study being true in other families I know either.

anon333474
Post 4

I feel like 32 isn't a very large sample size at all. I was just discussing yesterday how second children seem to be taller than their older siblings.

anon333387
Post 2

This does not appear to project the correct thing. There is, in fact, a proverb in Tamil which says that the first born are likely to be more dull-witted. This may be true because they are conceived when the newly married couple are more emotionally involved.

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