Height grumble

Something that’s been on my mind recently, of which I was reminded by Joshua Gans linking to a study about problems with high birth weight babies: did you know medical care is somewhat compromised by being extremely tall? How so, you might ask? Well aside from the fact that Jo(an) Public’s sense of what a good weight is is seldom corrected for height, especially for women, actual doctors with actual charts have no idea what a healthy measurement is for me in terms of blood tests or, in some cases, actual organ size. I have over the last couple of years had several tests where the radiologists and/or pathologists were unable to give a firm reading because they do not have enough data for women at my height (or weight in fact). They can extrapolate, but appear unwilling to, it’s different from having an actual sample. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised, I’ve been reading for years about how correct diagnoses are harder to obtain the further you get from the profile of people who participate in clinical trials. It’s even justifiable in my case: it’s not as though there’s an overlooked population of very tall women out there to be studied. But it’s still extremely irritating to be told that ‘this result would be worrying in most women… for you, we simply don’t know!’

Anyway, I’m never able to read the stuff about heavy babies (I was, I believe, a bit this side of 4.5kg, but not by much) without wondering if someone is correcting for parental/neonatal height in these measures. Are all babies really supposed to be the same size regardless of, to take a hypothetical case, having a mother sitting on the fifth standard deviation above the height average?