The short stature of the Baka people of West Africa, also known as pygmies, is the result of growing slowly during the first two years of their lives.
The latest research shows that Baka babies are of average size but it’s the next two years of life which make the difference.
The study in the journal Nature Communications says African populations of short stature share a common ancestor and inhabit similar environments, such as rainforests.
Adult Baku have an average height of 1.5 metres.
French researcher Fernando Ramirez Rozzi and colleagues conducted two studies of the Baka, involving several hundred people from birth to age 25.
They found that the growth rate slows significantly during the first two years of life.
This slowing produces a lasting delay evident in the size of Baka children from age three.
After that the growth rate is similar to other populations.
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