'How Tall Will My Child Be?' Factors That Affect Child's Height

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How tall will my child be? Many parents have questions and concerns about their child’s height as they grow into adults. But, children’s growth is determined by several factors that may vary from child to child. Although predicting your child’s exact height may not be possible, certain techniques can help you get a rough estimate of their height as an adult.

This post will help you know about a child’s growth and the factors affecting their height.

In This Article

How Tall Could A Child Be?

Based on estimates, a child’s height is 80% influenced by genetic factors and the rest by environmental factors (such as nutrition). However, the effect of the genes on height is not completely understood. Children of tall parents are expected to be tall, this expectation applies to short parents too (1).

A child’s typical growth rate is found to be about two inches per year from the age of four until puberty for both boys and girls (2). The soft, developing tissues at the end of the bone, known as the growth plates, stop growing and stiffen once a child reaches puberty. While boys generally reach the end of their puberty at around 17-18 years, girls hit the end of puberty after two to three years of starting their periods, i.,e around 15 years of age (3). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average height for men and women in the US is 5’9” and 5’4”, respectively (4). Besides the statistical references, you may also refer to the growth chart below by CDC to understand how your child is growing.

AgeHeight – Females

(in inches)

Height – Males

(in inches)

Weight – Females

(in pounds)

Weight – Males

(in pounds)

127 to 3128 to 3215 to 2017 to 21
231.5 to 3632 to 3722 to 3224 to 34
334.5 to 4035.5 to 40.526 to 3826 to 38
437 to 42.537.5 to 4328 to 4430 to 44
642 to 4942 to 4936 to 6036 to 60
847 to 5447 to 5444 to 8046 to 78
1050 to 5950.5 to 5954 to 10654 to 102
1255 to 6454 to 63.568 to 13666 to 130
1459 to 67.559 to 69.584 to 16084 to 160
1660 to 6863 to 7394 to 172104 to 186
1860 to 68.565 to 74100 to 178116 to 202

Source: Stanford Children’s Health

How To Estimate A Child’s Height?

The different techniques or methods you can use to get a close estimate of your child’s future height are as follows:

1. Two years times two method: It is based on the theory that a child’s height at an early age influences their adult height. You may use this when your child is two years old. For girls, at 18 months, this method can provide a close estimate since girls grow faster than boys. You need to multiply the height at two years, and this will give you a rough measure of your child’s height in adulthood (5). However, the efficacy of this technique has not been proven and lacks adequate research.

protip_icon Quick tip
Make the child stand against a wall (barefooted and without hair accessories) on a flat surface. Mark the crown of their head using a pencil/pen and measure the distance from the floor to the mark to record their height (5).

2. Mid-parental method: The mid-parental height method is based on the influence of the parents height on their children’s adult height (4).
  • Add both the parents heights in inches and divide by two
  • For boys, add 2 ½ inches to the entire equation
  • For girls, subtract 2 ½ inches from the entire equation
    Boys: [(Mother’s height + Father’s height) / 2] + 2.5 inches
    Girls: [(Mother’s height + Father’s height) / 2] – 2.5 inches

3. Bone age assessment: The bone age method is mostly used by pediatricians when a child shows unusual growth patterns. It is based on determining the child’s bone age by assessing the growth plates. These are soft cartilages found at the end of long bones. The growth plates determine the growth rate because these plates close once the bones stop growing. The assessment is carried out as follows (6) (7):

An X ray of the left wrist and hand helps doctors check open growth plates.

Image: IStock

  • An X-ray of the left wrist and hand, to check open growth plates.
  • After determining the extent of the opening, the bone age is assigned that is different from the child’s age.
  • The bone age provides a rough estimate of the height left to attain by assessing the growing pattern of the bones.

4. Height calculator: A height calculator can help you understand your child’s future height. You may try the height calculator, whose predictions are based on the parents’ height and the child’s current height, weight, and age.

5. Khamis-Roche method: The Khamis-Roche height predictor consists of arrays of calculations from a linear combination of a child’s height and weight, along with mid-parental height to predict the adult height and stature of the child. The calculation also considers sex- and age-specific coefficients for ages 4–17.5 years (8) (9).

What Factors Affect A Child’s Height?

Factors that can influence the growth of children include:

1. Family history and genetics: As mentioned above, children are likely to inherit their height from the parents. A family history of short or tall stature can influence your child’s adult height due to the genetic makeup.

Genes may also play a role in determining the height of children. It is believed that boys may be taller than girls in some cases. This can be attributed to the fact that girls possess two X chromosomes and tend to reach adolescence earlier than boys.

2. Puberty: This is the maturation period when a child is going through different physical changes, such as facial hair, hair growth in the pubic and armpit area, and mild acne. There is a sudden peak in the typical growth of children as they reach puberty ( Puberty can start anytime from eight years onwards (10).

There is a sudden peak in the growth of children during puberty.

Image: Shutterstock

3. Nutrition: It is evident that nutrition contributes to the child’s growth. Lack of adequate nutrition and a balanced diet can cause children to be short stature as they grow up. You should consult your child’s pediatrician to understand your child’s nutritional status (5) (10).

4. Health conditions: Some health conditions affecting the child’s height include (5):

  • Reduced or excess growth hormone production leads to delayed growth or gigantism (characterized by extra height) than other children of the same age.
  • Chromosomal abnormalities causing turner syndrome and down syndrome might lead to short stature and slow height development.
  • Underlying morbidities, such as digestive problems, disorder of the kidney, heart or lung, and persistent stress.
  • Children suffering from chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, cancer, and celiac disease tend to be shorter than the average height of their age.

protip_icon Did you know?
Maternal pregnancy diet and exposure to smoking and toxic substances can affect a child’s height (1).

When Should You Worry About A Child’s Height?

Talk to the doctor if there is slow growth in your child.

Image: Shutterstock

Although slight deviations from the normal growth curve shouldn’t raise concerns, unusual growth can indicate an underlying condition. Therefore, you should consult a pediatrician in the following circumstances (11):

  • Unusual increase in height compared to children of the same age. This can be the result of precocious puberty due to hormonal changes. The early start of puberty causes a rapid growth spurt that stops before the normal age and results in short stature as an adult.
  • Slow growth can also indicate hormonal change. Abnormally short stature could result from growth hormone deficiency due to underlying pituitary damage.
  • A child’s short stature or even an extreme height compared to their friends or peers can cause them to feel stressed or depressed, which requires immediate medical attention and support.

protip_icon Did you know?
The earliest growth spurt (from baby to toddler) accounts for about half of a child’s adult height (5).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the most accurate height predictor?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the bone age method, based on evaluating a child’s hand with the help of an X-ray, is one of the most accurate methods, among others (5).

2. Does height come from Mom or Dad?

The inheritance of height is influenced by both maternal and paternal sides (genetic) and environmental factors. The genes responsible for a person’s height follow a polygenic inheritance pattern, meaning multiple genes and mechanisms are involved (1).

3. Do grandparents affect the height of a child?

A child’s height has a complex genetic inheritance pattern and depends on several factors. However, one study revealed that a child’s height might strongly correlate with the paternal side of the family (especially the paternal grandfather) (12).

Worrying about your child’s growth and development is normal. But remember that each child is different in their physical development. Hence, do not worry if your child is not growing according to the standardized growth charts. Instead, observe their growth and follow up with the regular pediatrician visits to ensure a healthy, overall development while providing them with the best nourishment and support.

Infographic: Factors Influencing A Child’s Height

A child’s height is one of the aspects of their physical development that often intrigues parents, making them curious about how tall their child will be. If you are wondering about this characteristic, explore our infographic below to learn about the factors affecting a child’s height.

what determines a childs height (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • A child might grow around two inches in a year from four to twelve years.
  • However, family history, stages of growth, nutritional and health conditions are important factors contributing to children’s height.
  • Every child’s growth pattern is different; hence do not worry if your child’s height is not as per the standardized growth charts.
  • Make sure to visit their pediatrician to monitor their height and overall growth.

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Is height determined by genetics?
    https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/traits/height/
  2. The secret to knowing how tall your child will be.
    https://www.childrensdayton.org/the-hub/secret-knowing-how-tall-your-child-will-be
  3. How Tall Will Your Child Be?
    https://health.clevelandclinic.org/child-growth-and-development/
  4. Americans Slightly Taller, Much Heavier than 40 Years Ago.
    https://webarchive.library.unt.edu/eot2008/20081015041044/http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r041027.htm
  5. Predicting a child’s adult height.
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/Glands-Growth-Disorders/Pages/Predicting-a-Childs-Adult-Height.aspx
  6. Is it possible to predict height?
    https://www.hss.edu/pediatrics-is-it-possible-to-predict-height.asp
  7. Arsalan Manzoor Mughal et al. (2014). Bone Age Assessment Methods: A Critical Review.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955574/
  8. Lisa Swartz Topor et al. (2013). Variation in Methods of Predicting Adult Height in Children with Idiopathic Short Stature.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793344/
  9. Physical changes during puberty.https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Physical-Development-of-School-Age-Children.aspx
  10. Physical changes during puberty.
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Physical-Development-of-School-Age-Children.aspx
  11. Growth problems in children.
    https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=90&contentid=p01956
  12. Gabrielle E Kelly et al., Body mass index is associated with the maternal lines but height is heritable across family lines in the Lifeways Cross-Generation Cohort Study.
    https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/4/12/e005732
  13. Measuring Children’s Height and Weight Accurately At Home
    https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/measuring_children.html/#Weight
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