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502266.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:32 am Reply with quote

Many years ago I seem to remember being told that foot sizes were introduced in the time of Oliver Cromwell. As I understood it he realised that, unlike the French, the English soldier marches on his feet, and to make the supply of boots easier he introduced standard sizes. He had all the soldier's feet measured and found the largest was 13 inches long, so that was why he called that size thirteen, and each size smaller was one barleycorn shorter. I don't know if that there is any truth in the story, but it is good enough to be true.
In a different direction entirely, (clown's feet) when each of my wives were expecting their first child they were asked their shoe size by the midwife. On enquiry both midwives said that shoe size was an indication of bone structure, and ladies with small feet usually had narrower pelvic openings, therefore were more likely to have difficult births. This suggests that, while shoe size might not be a good indicator of men's "size" it might be a better one of women's!!

502474.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:23 am Reply with quote

Welcome to these halls, me acker, and thank you for the interesting post. In some circles I am known as 'daftoldgrandad', and hail from Hants&Dorset land, also known as Bawmuf.

502650.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:20 pm Reply with quote

An adult shoe 13 inches in length would actually be size 14, unfortunately for the Cromwell idea.

More on this topic in a discussion starting at post 501223.

I like the notion about shoe size being related to pelvis size though - I shall investigate at some point.

502797.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:05 pm Reply with quote

Watch out, ladies!

502934.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:18 pm Reply with quote

shoe size being related to pelvis size though

makes sense - you'd expect the major body parts to be broadly proportional - so small feet would (usually) be a small woman with correspondingly small pelvis.

502945.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:50 pm Reply with quote

It turns out that there have been quite a few papers written on this subject, although most of them are in medical journals to which I don't have access.

I have however managed to read an abstract of a paper which should be cited as:

Awonuga, A O, Merhi Z, Awonuga M T, Samuels T A, Waller J, and Pring D (2007). 'Anthropometric measurements in the diagnosis of pelvic size: an analysis of maternal height and shoe size and computed tomography pelvimetric data', Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 276(5), pp. 523-528.

Although Awonuga et al are based in Georgia (the one in the USA), the data analysed in their paper was collected at York District Hospital in England. What they did was to conduct statistical analysis of data collected from a sample of the women presenting at the Ob and Gyn department of that hospital, that data being height, weight, shoe size, and pelvic adequacy.

(An "adequate pelvis" is defined as one "which has an anterior-posterior diameter of the inlet of > or =11 cm and an anterior-posterior diameter of the outlet > or =10 cm on erect lateral CT pelvimetry". In layman's terms, a woman who has what is termed an "inadequate pelvis" will be advised to give birth by Caesarean operation.)

Anyways, after many pages of statistical analysis, the paper reaches the following conclusion:

"Measurements of maternal height, shoe size and weight at the last clinic visit are not useful for the identification of women with inadequate pelvis."

502948.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:55 pm Reply with quote

It's intriguing, though perhaps merely mischievous, to speculate that if they'd looked at foot size, it might have been a different story.

502952.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:58 pm Reply with quote

actually, come to think of it

foot size is probably determined by genetics
pelvis size is probably determined by womb and early post-natal development

I do remember being told a long time ago that women who had been born during periods of famine, who then gave birth during periods of plenty, were more likely to die in childbirth (or as suze puts it - have an inadequate pelvis). That was in a discussion concerning African women.

502959.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:03 pm Reply with quote

Flash does make a good point. I might see if I can look the paper up (being on a university computer gives me access to quite a lot of journal archives, that may be amongst them) and see if they measured the feet or just asked for shoe size.

502961.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:04 pm Reply with quote

even if they did just ask for shoe size that would be a fairly good approximation for foot size

502962.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:08 pm Reply with quote

Bugger. I can get an institutional login to which hosts the full paper. Unfortunately it's a pdf and it won't bloody open. Anyone else on the university network want to try to get to it?

502965.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:13 pm Reply with quote

that link has an HTML option too Moosh

502970.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:18 pm Reply with quote


Thanks bob, I didn't see that for some reason.

Edit: Okay, having read the paper, they took the data from what was collected from patients routinely, that is they did not make any measurements themselves. This meant they took the shoes size as given by the women when asked, rather than actually measuring the feet.

Sebastian flyte
502985.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:56 pm Reply with quote

I can't find anything free access either but have read more then one source now saying that women's feet get bigger (longer and wider) in pregnancy. So not only does it seem that small footed women are not destined to have small pelvic openings for giving birth but will have bigger feet if they have another baby!.. So I'm guessing that opening might be a little bigger that time round.. (although not my area of expertise...) although of course this all could be bollocks really.

502989.  Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:01 pm Reply with quote

I don't think that's to do with bone structure though seb - it's just increased pressure (similar to expanding feet as the day goes on).


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