In the modern world, one of the major factors used to measure public health and quality of life is height. For example, in the late 19th century, children in Holland were the shortest in the world. In the last 30 years or so, their height has considerably exceeded the height of children in America. The average height for an adult male in the United States today is 5.7644 ft (175.7 cm). The average height in Holland is 6.0302 ft (183.8 cm).
How can I predict my child’s height?
You can calculate your child’s height potential using the following formula:
For boys: Father’s height plus mother’s height divided by 2 plus 2.5591 inches
For girls: Father’s height plus mother’s height divided by 2 minus 2.5591 inches
It is important to note that this formula is not 100% accurate.
Predicting height using bones age
Bone age is calculated according to skeletal maturity compared to accepted standards determined by age and gender. One way of doing it (referred to as the Greulich and Pyle Method) is to use an x-ray of the child’s left palm (Most people are right-handed and so the left hand is less susceptible to damage caused by prolonged use).The x-ray is compared to a database of other children’s x-rays at the same age.
The second way (referred to as the Tanner-Whitehouse Method) is based on checking and giving each bone in the palm a score according to the degree of its maturity. All the points are, then, summed up and compared to a table that contains results of other boys or girls at the same age.
Through bone age, doctors can assess which percentage of the maximum height the child had already reached in relation to his estimated potential. It should be born in mind, though, that both ways rely on statistics and, therefore, tend to have a margin of error of 1.9 – 2.7 inches. The younger the subject is, the greater the margin of error will become.
Can we affect our child’s height?
Genetics determines around 75% of a person’s height and we have nothing to do about it. We can affect the remaining 25%. So what can we do?
Creating the right environment that encourages proper growth
Making sure our children enjoy a good quality of life, eat healthy food and exercise regularly is of paramount importance. In developing countries, many children tend to suffer from growth disorders which are the result of malnutrition, poor hygiene, and lack of preventive medicine.
Routine exercising side by side with sufficient sleep help the body release growth hormone (hGH). In fact, most of the body’s growth hormone is released during the various stages of deep sleep.
Emotional factors play a leading role as well. Severe stress may impair the body’s ability to produce growth hormone. A psychologically and emotionally stable environment is a precondition for the child’s proper physical development.
Avoiding certain growth inhibiting medicines
Certain medicines, mainly steroid hormones such as hydrocortisone, may lead to accelerated and abnormal growth at a too early age. At the proper age, growth slows down. If your child takes drugs on a regular basis, it is recommended consulting a specialist regarding possible side effect in the long run.
Severe cases may necessitate medical intervention which includes artificially giving children growth hormone through daily injections. Doctors recommend this treatment to
- children who were born too small compared to the gestational age and did not fill the gap until the age of 4
- children who suffer from kidney failure
- children who suffer from poor growth and delayed development as a result of Prader-Willi syndrome.
The effectiveness of this treatment varies from one patient to another. In most cases, it helps the child grow by up to 1.5-2 inches.
This article was contributed by Simon Cote, a physiotherapist from Vancouver, Canada