How to Know if Boy or Girl Will Get Any Taller?
Medical information provided by Shari Nethersole, a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Every child grows at a different height, and growth spurts can be sporadic. Many factors can impact height, from genetics to health conditions, diet and lifestyle. But keeping these things in mind might not be super helpful for teens — especially boys — who feel self conscious about their height.
Seeing athletes and other public figures may lead to teenage boys feeling bad about how tall they are. But many may be right on par with the average height for men is 5 feet 9 inches.
It’s important to give assurance to boys who feel bad about their height that while their feelings are normal and valid, they have much more to be proud of themselves about.
While the cause of a boy’s short stature may not be an issue or something that can be fixed, it is important to visit a pediatrician if your child seems to be behind in their growth. Oftentimes, they are developing at their own pace, which means they might go through slow growth or just be on the short stature side.
Related: How Tall Will My Baby Be? (A Genetic Explanation)
But sometimes an underlying health condition can be a factor in shorter height. A health checkup is always a good idea in regard to growth concerns about a child’s final height.
Ask an Expert: When Do Boys Stop Growing?
Shari Nethersole a physician at Boston Children's Hospital and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School answers a concerned parent’s question about when it’s normal for teen boys to stop growing taller.
Q: My 17-year-old son is 5'4" tall and hasn't grown in two years. Will he grow any taller? Can anything be done at this point? He is self-conscious about his height.
A: Whether or not your son will grow any further is dependent on what stage of puberty he is in. While children grow a certain amount each year, boys usually have their big growth spurt in the later part of puberty, after the testes have grown substantially, the pubic hair has grown dense, and the penis has grown to almost its adult size.
After this growth spurt, the growth plates in the bones fuse, and there is no further increase in height. Although most boys have gotten to this point by 17, a few have not, and therefore will continue to grow even while in college. On the other hand, boys who go through puberty on the early side will have completed all of this by age 14 or 15, and then not grow any further.
Since you say your son hasn't grown in the past two years it seems more likely that he has completed his growth already, but no one can say this for sure without examining him to see if he has gone completely through puberty. If he is still is only part of the way through puberty then further growth is possible.
I recommend that you take him to see his pediatrician or an adolescent medicine or family physician (not a physician who treats only adults) with your questions. That way he can be examined, and get a more accurate assessment of his weight, height, stage of puberty, and general health.
Normal Growth for Teen Boys
For boys in their early teen years, there’s likely a lot more growing to do. At 10 or 11, they may not have started puberty yet, while girls their age may have already started getting taller. The largest growth spurt for boys happens during puberty. Most spurts happen between ages 12 and 15. Once they reach their late teens, boys tend to have reached their full height growth.
Doctors keep a growth chart for your child, and looking at the current height percentile can help predict a child’s final height as well as compare against other kids their age. If the chart mostly follows an even pattern, it’s likely that your child is growing at a healthy rate. A healthy height growth rate is more important than how tall someone is.
Genetic Factors that Affect Height
Parents’ height and genetics play a part in their final adult height. According to the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, around 80 percent of height is determined by inherited DNA gene variant sequences known as polygenic inheritance, though the impact of said genes is unclear.
Variants in these genes may dramatically impact height and lead to conditions that cause short stature, but overall, genes are just one factor in a child’s final height. Genetics also impacts the development of the growth plate.
Guessing a child’s height based on that of their family is not always an accurate predictor. Considering a child’s parents’ health can hint at height and growth, specifically the nutrition of the birthing parent during pregnancy.
If a mother took prenatal vitamins, did not smoke, and exercised regularly, this can have a positive impact on a child’s prospective growth. On this note, socioeconomic factors also play a role — whether the mother (and child) have access to healthy food and can afford regular healthcare plays a major role in healthy growth and development in general.
Focusing on Overall Health
Healthy eating and having a balanced diet can also play a role in your child’s height development. When kids eat a nutrient-rich diet, they’ll be more on the path to achieving their greatest possible height. Regular physical activity and good sleep hygiene can also factor into growth and height.
Kids 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours of sleep, while teens should get at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night. But it’s not just about quantity. To have enough sleep to help reach their full potential, teenagers and kids need to focus on getting enough quality rest.
This means working toward a good night of the right type of sleep. Staying away from snacks and screens too close to bed can help.
Maintaining overall health, keeping up a sleep schedule, and avoiding naps and caffeine also can help teenagers sleep better. If your teen exhibits signs of insomnia despite good sleep hygiene, it may be something to bring up at their next medical appointment.
Helping Boost Your Teen's Self-Esteem About Their Height
Whether they are tall or short, all kids will feel self-conscious about their appearance at some point. But for teenage boys, being on the shorter side is often a cause of low self-esteem. It is important to pay attention to your teen’s overall well-being, including their mental health.
If kids avoid having photos taken or eat more or less food, they may feel self-conscious about their appearance and possibly have a body image issue. Parents can show support as well by opening up about their own struggles as well as being informative and transparent about changes a child will go through during puberty.
It’s also important not to body shame yourself in front of your child. Instead, work with your kid to find appreciation for all that our bodies do for us and talk about why it is important to care for them every day.
Rather than focus on your child’s height or size, boost their self-esteem with compliments about their efforts or achievements, talk to them about their interests, and spend time together doing things you both enjoy to show them you appreciate them and enjoy their company.
If you suspect your child may be struggling or having suicidal feelings and signs of depression, the CDC says it’s a good idea to have a talk with them about it. At the same time, teens deserve to have their privacy respected, so while a discussion can be helpful, prying and snooping to find out how they are feeling is not a good idea.
When to See a Doctor About Height
Regular healthcare visits are a big part of being a healthy human. Checkups can detect potential nutrient deficiencies or other conditions that might be contributing to short stature in teenagers.
For example, a pediatrician may find that a child needs to supplement their calcium or Vitamin D intake to help with bone growth. They may also recommend a larger calorie intake.
Delayed puberty can play a factor in short stature, and a child’s height may just catch up a little later. Puberty, sex hormones, and the pituitary gland’s production of the growth hormone all play factors in a child’s growth and height.
But some genetic conditions like Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome, osteoporosis, and Noonan syndrome impact this and often lead to a shorter height. Many chronic illnesses can also have an impact on height and growth.
Your doctor can look for signs of these conditions and determine whether health problems are causing a growth delay in your teenager. They may do X-rays to look at bone development, and check your child’s thyroid hormone. Depending on diagnoses, may prescribe additional vitamins, supplements, or a Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
Your child could have a growth hormone deficiency, and in that case, a growth hormone may be prescribed to help give them time to grow the amount they are supposed to, rather than making them taller. But do not give your child any new medication or change their diet without first visiting with and asking your child’s pediatrician to get proper medical advice.
If your teen is on the younger side and feeling self-conscious about their height and stature, it’s important to remind them that it takes time to grow. Remind them that it’s also most important to be h
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Stephanie Sokol is a writer and editor from the Chicago area. She has a background in news and marketing and has been writing for more than a decade.