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What Influences a Child's Height?

by Candice Coleman

Expectant parents often wonder whether their new baby will inherit certain features such as eye color or hair color from a particular parent. Height often is another concern. Several variables play a role in how tall a person becomes in his adult years -- and most of those variables are beyond a person's control.

Genetics

The biggest predictor of a future child's adult height lies in her parents' genes. Doubling your 2-year-old's height in inches is one method of predicting adult height. According to the Mayo Clinic, parents can also add their heights in inches together. Add 5 inches to this figure if your child is a boy and subtract 5 inches from the figure if your child is a girl. Divide the number by two to get a prediction of your child's adult height in inches. A child's adult height will usually fall within a few inches from the height you predict.

Gender

Puberty affects humans in different ways, and the later onset of puberty in men gives them a height advantage over women. Humans have growth plates, or areas of cartilage, at the end of every long bone in the body, according to Duke University Health System. These growth plates close toward the end of puberty, which will slow or end height growth. Entering puberty early -- before age 8 for girls or before ages 9 or 10 for boys -- can cause a shorter adult height. Children who begin puberty in the mid-teens might end up taller as an adult.

Nutrition

Proper nutrition can enhance or slow a person's growth. Consuming an adequate amount of calories and getting a balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats can give a child a height boost. Speak to your daughter's pediatrician if you have concerns she is not getting enough calories or eating enough nutritious food.

Unusually Tall or Short Children

Some children grow much faster than the average, while others grow slower. Growth spurts can hit at different times or some children might be shorter or taller than average like their parents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Several explanations lie behind a child's height patterns. Your son's pediatrician can rule out or confirm other possible causes for your child's height such as growth hormone deficiency or precocious puberty. Your pediatrician will discuss treatment options with you.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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