Marital distance (MD), the geographical distance between birthplaces of spouses, is considered an agent favouring occurrence of heterosis and can be used as a measure of its level. Heterosis itself is a phenomenon of hybrid vigour and seems to be an important factor regulating human growth and development. The main aim of the study is to examine potential effects of MD on birth weight and length of offspring, controlling for socioeconomic status (SES), mother’s age and birth order. Birth weight (2562 boys and 2572 girls) and length (2526 boys, 2542 girls) of children born in Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski (Poland) in 1980, 1983, 1985 and 1988 were recorded during cross-sectional surveys carried out between 1994-1999. Data regarding the socio-demographic variables of families were provided by the parents. Analysis of covariance showed that MD significantly affected both birth weight and length, allowing for sex, birth order, mother’s age and SES of family. For both sexes, a greater marital distance was associated with a higher birth weight and a longer birth length. Our results support the hypothesis that a greater geographical distance between the birth places of parents may contribute to the heterosis effects in offspring. Better birth outcomes may be one of the manifestations of these effects.
Barrai I, Cavalli-Sforza LL, Moroni A. 1962. Frequencies of pedigrees of consanguineous marriages and mating structure of the population. Ann Hum Genet 25(4):347–77.
Bodmer WF, Cavalli-Sforza LL. 1976. Genetics, Evolution, and Man. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company.
Cavalli-Sforza LL, Bodmer WF. 1971. The genetics of human populations. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company.
Cnattingius S, Granath F, Petersson G, Harlow BL. 1999. The influence of gestational age and smoking habits on the risk of subsequent preterm deliveries. N Engl J Med 341(13): 943–8.
Crognier E. 1977. Marriages, migrations and the biological population in a Sara tribe from Chad. J Hum Evol 6(2):159–168.
Crow JF. 1998. 90 Years Ago: The Beginning of Hybrid Maize. Genetics 148(3):923–8.
de Araujo AM, Salzano FM. 1975. Parental characteristics and birthweight in a Brazilian population. Hum Biol 47(1):37–43.
Dell Inc. 2016. Dell Statistica (data analysis software system), version 13. software.dell.com.
Dobzhansky T. 1970. Genetics of the Evolutionary Process. New York, London: Columbia University Press.
Fishberg M. 1905. Materials for the physical anthropology of the Eastern European Jews. Ann NY Acad Sci 16(6):155–299.
Fix AG. 1999. Migration and Colonization in Human Microevolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Friedlaender JS. 1971. Isolation by Distance in Bougainville. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 68(4):704–7.
Heaman M, Kingston D, Chalmers B, Sauve R, Lee L, Young D. 2013. Risk factors for preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age births among Canadian women. Paediatr. Perinat. Epidemiol 27(1):54–61.
Karim E, Mascie-Taylor CG. 1997. The association between birthweight, sociodemographic variables and maternal anthropometry in an urban sample from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Ann Hum Biol 24(5):387–401.
Khoshnood B, Wall S, Lee KS. 2005. Risk of low birth weight associated with advanced maternal age among four ethnic groups in the United States. Matern Child Health J 9(1):3–9.
Kimura M, Weiss GH. 1964. The stepping stone model of population structure and the decrease of genetic correlation with distance. Genetics 49(4):561–76.
Kozieł S, Danel DP, Zaręba M. 2011. Isolation by distance between spouses and its effect on children’s growth in height. Am J Phys Anthropol 146(1):14–9.
Lyngdoh T, Kinra S, Shlomo Y, Reddy S, Prabhakaran D, Smith G, Ebrahim S, Indian migration study group. 2006. Sib-recruitment for studying migration and its impact on obesity and diabetes. Emerg Themes Epidemiol 13(3):2.
Mascie-Taylor CG, Little MA. 2004. History of migration studies in biological anthropology. Am J Hum Biol 16(4): 365–78.
Mascie-Taylor CG. 1986. Marital distances, age at marriage and husband’s social group in a contemporary Cambridge sample. Ann Hum Biol 13(5): 411–5.
Morton NE. 1977. Isolation by distance in human populations. Ann Hum Genet 40(3):361–5.
Penn G, Owen L. 2002. Factors associated with continued smoking during pregnancy: Analysis of socio-demographic, pregnancy and smoking-related factors. Drug Alcohol Rev, 21(1):17–25.
Pölziberger E, Hartmann B, Hafner E, Stümpflein I, Kirchengast S. 2017. Maternal height and pre-pregnancy weight status are associated with fetal growth patterns and newborn size. J Biosoc Sci 49(3):392–407.
Reddy PG. 1988. Consanguineous marriages and matrimonial distance: a study among three South Indian caste groups. Biol Soc 5(4):173–8.
Schmitt LH, Harrison GA, Mascie-Taylor CG. 1991. Marital distance and child variability. Ann Hum Biol 18(2):121–6.
Shah PS. 2010. Paternal factors and low birthweight, preterm, and small for gestational age births: a systematic review. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 202(2):103–23.
Shull GH. 1914. Duplicate genes for capsule-form in Bursa bursa-pastoris. Mol Gen Genet 12(1): 97–149.
Spencer N, Logan S. 2002. The treatment of parental height as a biological factor in studies of birthweight and childhood growth. Arch Dis Child 87(3):184–7.
Szklarska A, Lipowicz A, Lopuszanska M, Bielicki T, Koziel S. 2008. Biological condition of adult migrants and nonmigrants in Wrocław, Poland. Am J Hum Biol 20(2):139–45.
Verheij RA, van den Mheen HD, Bakker DH, Groenewegen PP, Mackenbach JP. 1998. Urban-Rural Variations in Health in the Netherlands: Does Selective Migration Play a Part? J Epidemiol Community Health 52(8):487–93.
Vielwerth SE, Jensen RB, Larsen T, Greisen G. 2007. The impact of maternal smoking o fetal and infant growth. Early Hum Dev 83(8): 491–5.
Wolański N, Jarosz E, Pyżuk M. 1970. Heterosis in man: growth in offspring and distance between parents’ birthplaces. Soc Biol 17(1):1–16.
Wright S. 1943. Isolation by distance. Genetics 28(2): 114–38.
Wright S. 1977. Evolution and the Genetics of Populations. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press.