news item: children conceived through fertility treatments tend to be… shorter?

I am Italian. Along with my prominent nose, fiery temper and loud relatives, I inherited my family’s “vertical challenges.” The tallest person in my family is a contested five feet and eleven inches, and everyone else averages out around five-foot-seven, ending with short (and shrinking) me at five-foot-three. We are also built wide, like Lord of the Rings dwarves, athletically inclined more towards sprinting, not distance.

My husband is a tall and lanky six feet. Before you say, Wait a minute– why is five-foot-eleven short and six feet tall?, my husband holds himself very straight, and his thinner frame makes him look much longer.

Our twin daughters? At best guess so far, we have one of each. Ham is bigger across the board– 75th percentile at her six-month well-baby appointment– but she is undeniably taller than her peanut of a sister, even though the difference numerically does not seem like much. Ham also looks like a blend of her father’s and grandmother’s faces with just a dash of me thrown in there; Chicken is my absolute clone (although we did discover recently that she has Husband’s mother’s expressions and a bit of her chin).

So I was a bit amused when I came across an article published today in the Irish Times claiming “children conceived with fertility drugs tend to be shorter than their peers.” [source] Another article by Science Daily and a third from US News, both from a few weeks ago, claim the same.

Is this really a thing? Just entering the search terms “child” “conceived” and “fertility” into a Google search dumps a ton of similar articles into your lap. I just… really?

I wonder how that might shake out– are we talking about all fertility drugs? do the embryos grow slightly more slowly as a side effect of the drugs or something?– but unfortunately, the articles are a bit vague, perhaps because they just do not know.

So I wanted to pose these question to all of you:


Are your children who were conceived through fertility treatments on the shorter side?

If you have some children conceived through treatments and some without, is there any difference in their height?

Is this probably just another “girls have a higher heart rate than boys” bit of junk science bordering on an old wives’ tale?


Who knows… I always suspected that Ham was the egg that was nice and large (18mm, I believe?) when we triggered, and Chicken was the one that was just behind and the doctor gave me an extra day to let it catch up, so maybe that is why she is smaller (I kid, I kid).

I am no scientist, and unless you are, I know we could all sit around conjecturing about the validity of these studies and really, we would not know either way. But does this seem odd to anyone else? Or does it ring true for your family?

(As a sidenote: was the “heart rate gender prediction” correct for you? We had the same issue– one high and one low– so we assumed a boy and a girl. Not so!)



  1. This made me LOL. My older DD (3yo next week) is an IVF baby. She took after my DH & is tall, lean, & lanky. My younger DD was a complete surprise “bed baby”. She’s now 6 months old, is a porky 18 lbs. with adorable fat rolls everywhere, & has small legs & small hands & feet. So that theory was completely off for us!

    The heartrate old wives tales wasn’t true, either, for us. Both my girls had slowish heart rates in utereo. They got it from DH; his heart rate is quite slow.

    • Julie Anita says:

      We all need a little fluff every now and again, am I right? 😉

      Maybe one of my girls got more of the Gonal-F than the other and that’s why she’s smaller, lol. ALTHOUGH, something I hadn’t considered… fertility treatments = higher likelihood of multiples, and multiples = higher likelihood of IUGR and two-vessel cords, which can restrict growth. My girls were a touch growth-restricted and my smaller girl had the cord issues, so I guess there’s a correlation there, albeit a loose one… hmm.

  2. I’ll never know if it was the drugs or just genetics for my little girl…I’m 5 ft nuthin’ and my hubs is 5’6″ on a good day wearing shoes…though he claims to be 5’7″. We both have tall genes in our families. My grandparents were 4’9″ and 5’4″ and had 3 boys over 6 ft. My guess is if my daughter is short, it’s just plain genetics and not the drugs…but I guess we’ll never really know the true answer.

    • Julie Anita says:

      That’s pretty crazy about your grandparents (can you imagine being 4’9″ and having three kids over 6′? There’s got to be a serious head trip in making a person that ends up becoming so much bigger than you!). I wonder if nutrition could be part of it? Who knows. I don’t think you can really prove much with this sort of study, to be honest, but it’s fun to hear people’s anecdotal evidence 🙂

  3. The mystery is solved! Lol, at 5’11”, I was the one conceived with fertility treatments and the shortest one, my sister being 6’2″ and my brother 6’5″.

    We always thought that meant I’d have gigantic kids, since at 5’7″, my mom was the shortest out of her siblings.

    • Julie Anita says:

      HA! That’s one in favor so far 😉 (Damn, you have a sister who’s 6’2″? That is TALL!)

  4. LOL…too funny. Stella was an IUI baby, not IVF, so maybe the premise doesn’t apply, but so far she is 95% for length…tall, tall, tall. Then again, I am 5’8″ and my husband is 6’3″, so maybe it’s just genetics. 🙂

    Stella’s heart rate started in the 160s/150s…. but as the pregnancy progressed was in the 130s/140s. Who knows? My midwife said that if you’re slightly dehydrated, the HB is faster, b/c the heart is working harder to pump the blood. NO idea if that is true or not!

    • Julie Anita says:

      Oh, mine too, I’m just generalizing “fertility treatments” since the articles seem a little lazy on the details 🙂

      Chicken was in the 140s-150s and Ham in the 130s-140s the whole time except for one appointment, when they switched– and it may just be that our best guess at positioning was off.

  5. Hahaha. That’s crazy. And the science is very dubious. My husband actually is a research scientist, and works almost exclusively with DNA… so yeah, the science isn’t so much science as… how would he put it?… “correlation does not equal causation.” … yeah that sounds like him. 🙂

    Anyway, aside from the “science” … it still doesn’t hold true for us. My kids are beasts. They are giants. And it’s awesome! My 5 year old isn’t just in the 99 percentile, he’s been off the charts since birth. Born just shy of 10 pounds, 18 pounds by his 2 month check, and a whopping 36 pounds by 6 months…. he currently dwarfs all the kids his age… they come up to almost his shoulder. (He’s no longer a chubby baby but is thick and athletic/muscular looking. Totally going to be a football player…. or a ballet dancer, whatever he wants.) And while my 10 month old isn’t nearly in his league, she is still long (and chubby) for her age… I think she’s in the 96th for height, and close to that for weight, but I’d have to check again. So I’d have to say that it doesn’t hold true for us.

    • Julie Anita says:

      I’m sorry, let me stop my head from spinning… 36 POUNDS AT 6 MONTHS?! That is… quite remarkable. LOL! I can see that he’s a good-sized kid from your blog but now I need to retro-stalk and find a photo of him at 6 months because I am DYING to see what that would look like! All out of love, of course… I adore chunky babies! A friend of mine has an 18-lb 3-month-old and I thought HE was huge!

      SRB has a lot of professional experience with research science and she says about the same as your husband 🙂

  6. Like others, just wondering at the generalities. I didn’t have to go through fertilty treatments to get pregnant, but I did need medical intervention to stay pregnant. Does that fall into their parameters?

    I also wonder how much other contributing factors (aside from the obvious genetic issues) were taken into consideration in this so-called study. Like for me, I had both GD and high blood pressure… one supposedly leads to ginourmous babies and the other supposedly leads to wee little babies. Ginny started out as a hefty little girl but has significantly slowed down in her growth, going from being in the 95th percentile at birth to being right around the 50th percentile at 18 months. Pip, who started out smaller, has quickly jumped into the 90th percentile at 2 months. Will he stay there? Who knows.

    And the heartbeat thing? That was a dud for us. Ginny’s heartrate was on the slower side, and Pip was on the the higher side.

    Gotta love the pseudo-sciences! 🙂

    • Julie Anita says:

      Well, you guys don’t count in our scientific study anyways, you’re all hobbits and therefore bound to be quite short 😉

      • LOL… hey now! At 6’4”, my Beloved is far more Ent-ish than Hobbit-ish. Of course my very hobbit-ish genes probably are probably dominant. 🙂

  7. This sounds like hogwash to me! I will keep you posted on this one though because my husband is a tall, lanky 6″4 and I’m about 5″6 when you round UP. 🙂 We’re having a little boy in November so I will have to update you on his stats! I do have a friend who has two children via fertility meds and just gave birth to an “oops!” natural baby boy last week. I’ll see if I can’t get his measurements as well. I will say he was the biggest of her babies and the only one that went full-term. I think some of these studies should be 100% conclusive….we have enough to worry about!

    • Julie Anita says:

      You talk about rounding up to 5’6″ like that’s short or something! You’re a good couple inches taller than I am!

      When’s your due date? My girls are November babies– 11/11/11!

  8. My girlfriend went thru IVF and her baby was so long she was off the charts! Helped both mum and dad were tall but proves this theory is really only a theory!

  9. Though my husband and I are only average heights (I’m 5’4″ and he’s 5’8″), my daughter has been pretty tall from day one, and at 6 months she is still in the 77th percentile – down from her original 90th percentile, but still a good size. I would say the science here is pretty fuzzy, but I guess time will tell.

    As for the heart rate stuff, that was as total dud for us as well. I was so sure we were having a boy that I made the doctor check twice at our 20 week scan!

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