Social factors, such as education and marital status of mothers, and biological factors, such as the birth weight of mothers, can all affect the birth weight of their children and grandchildren, according to a study published in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
In other words, a woman born with low birth weight is more likely to give birth to a child with low birth weight.
"This really makes a difference in how we think about planning future population-level policies or programs that intend to reduce social inequalities in birth weight," said Jennifer B. Kane, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine.
Kane used two studies for her research, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, to track birth weights and pre-pregnancy physical and social health data.
Her research shows that generational history can play as a big a part in the health of a baby as what happens during pregnancy.
Moreover, her findings encourage a change of thinking in the ways we address programs that intend to reduce social inequalities in birth weight.