When Do You Know if Your Child Has Stopped Growing?

by Rebekah Richards

    Parents often want to know how tall their children will be, while many teens worry if their height and developing body will be "normal." The age at which children stop growing depends on when they begin and end puberty, according to KidsHealth.org. Although a balanced diet and adequate physical activity are important for growth and development, genetics remain the largest factor in a child's growth.

    Female Growth Patterns

    Girls typically reach the peak of their growth spurt about two years after puberty begins, according to KidsHealth.org. After girls begin menstruation -- typically around age 12 or 13 -- they usually grow another inch or two. Most girls are finished growing by age 14 or 15, but this might be earlier or later depending on when they reached puberty. The average adult female in the United States measures about 64 inches tall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Male Growth Patterns

    Boys generally hit their growth spurt about two years after girls, according to KidsHealth.org. Most boys grow most quickly between ages 12 and 15 and stop growing by age 16, but this depends on when they reach puberty. Boys usually continue developing muscles and gaining weight after they stop growing taller. The average adult male in the United States is about 69 inches tall, according to the CDC.

    Tracking Growth

    Your pediatrician can examine your child's growth charts to ensure he's growing normally and estimate how much growth he has left. Doctors also sometimes use X-rays to examine a child's growth plates, the soft areas of cartilage at the ends of a child's long bones. Once the growth plates have closed, teens are generally finished growing, according to the Duke Health website, which is connected to Duke University.

    Genetic Influence

    Height has a large genetic component, so you can also estimate a child's adult height by examining the height parents. Children usually grow to a height within 4 inches of the average of their parents’ height percentiles, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. However, because males tend to grow about 5 inches taller than women, you can't simply average the height of a child's parents. Environmental factors such as nutrition and disease also sometimes cause larger height disparities.

    Growth Failure

    Children grow at different rates, so don't worry if your child isn't as tall as his friends. However, abnormally slow growth or inconsistent growth curves sometimes indicate an underlying medical condition such as celiac disease or heart disease, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Growth hormone therapy treatments intended to help naturally short children grow taller are also more successful when started early. If you are concerned about your child's height or growth, talk to your child's pediatrician.

    About the Author

    Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.

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