The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Are short children at a disadvantage? The Wessex Growth Study

Downie, A. Bruce, Mulligan, Jean, Stratford, Robert J., Betts, Robert J. and Voss, L.D. (1997) Are short children at a disadvantage? The Wessex Growth Study BMJ, 314, (7074), pp. 97-100.

Record type: Article


OBJECTIVE: To examine whether short stature through childhood represents a disadvantage at around 12 years.
DESIGN: Longitudinal non-intervention study of the physical and psychological development of children recruited from the community in 1986-7 after entry into primary school at age 5-6 years; this is the second psychometric assessment made in 1994-5 after entry into secondary school at age 11-13 years.
SETTING: Southampton and Winchester health districts.
SUBJECTS: 106 short normal children (< 3rd centile for height when recruited) and 119 controls of average stature (10th-90th centile).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Psychometric measures of cognitive development, self concept development, behaviour, and locus of control.
RESULTS: The short children did not differ significantly from the control children on measures of self esteem (19.4 v 20.2), self perception (104.2 v 102.4), parents' perception (46.9 v 47.0), or behaviour (6.8 v 5.3). The short children achieved significantly lower scores on measures of intelligence quotient (IQ) (102.6 v 108.6; P < 0.005), reading attainment (44.3 v 47.9; P < 0.002), and basic number skills (40.2 v 43.5; P < 0.003) and displayed less internalisation of control (16.6 v 14.3; P < 0.001) and less satisfaction with their height (P < 0.0001). More short than control children, however, came from working class homes (P < 0.05). Social class was a better predictor than height of all measures except that of body satisfaction. Attainment scores were predicted by class and IQ together rather than by height. Height accounted for some of the variance in IQ and locus of control scores.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide only limited support for the hypothesis that short children are disadvantaged, at least up until 11-13 years old. Social class seems to have more influence than height on children's psychological development.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 1997


Local EPrints ID: 18552
ISSN: 0959-8138
PURE UUID: 7b5ff98c-e0e8-4308-b014-fe4cd5d9879b

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Dec 2005
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 16:35

Export record


Author: A. Bruce Downie
Author: Jean Mulligan
Author: Robert J. Stratford
Author: Robert J. Betts
Author: L.D. Voss

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.