Can a child's final adult height actually be predicted?

October 19, 2005

Children pass through growth phases at various points during adolescence before reaching final adult height. Some children begin their growth phases early on while others are "late bloomers." Many parents and children may be curious to know how tall the child will be as an adult. A study in the October issue of The Journal of Pediatrics describes an inexpensive and noninvasive method for parents and doctors to predict a child's adult height based on sex and growth factors.

Lauren Sherar, MSc and colleagues from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences in Belgium assessed height and weight from previous studies of 224 boys and 120 girls aged 8-16 years. "Early bloomers" tend to grow at a faster rate and reach their adult height before "late bloomers." On average, however, girls tend to reach their peak height at 12 years of age, and boys reach their peak at 14 years. The researchers estimated when a child would reach peak height and made their predictions according to each child's age, sex, weight, growth maturity level, sitting height, and standing height. By adding the child's present height to how many centimeters (cm) the child has to grow, the authors were able to predict the final height of boys within a 5.4 cm range and a 6.8 cm range for girls.

Because children can be insecure about their adolescent height, predicting their adult height can play a role in their physical and social well-being. Ms. Sherar explains that "this technique is a valid, non-intrusive, inexpensive, and simple method of predicting adult height in adolescent children, free of growth limiting diseases." Caregivers can try this technique at home by entering in required information about their child at http://www.usask.ca/kinesiology/research_index.php.

The study is reported in "Prediction of adult height using maturity-based cumulative height velocity curves" by Lauren B. Sherar, MSc, Robert L. Mirwald, PhD, Adam Baxter-Jones, PhD, and Martine Thomis, PhD. The article appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 147, Number 4 (October 2005), published by Elsevier.
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Elsevier Health Sciences

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