Debunking Three Myths Regarding Growth in Children

Dr. Vaishali Rustagi

New Delhi, January 18-There are a lot of myths regarding growth that run in our society for a long time. It’s time to know that these myths could have an adverse effect on the growth of the child as the necessary actions are not taken on time. Here are the four myths about growth in children and why they can never be facts.

Boys Grow till the Age of 21 Years and Girls Grow till the Age of 18 Years?

We need to understand that growth is not only dependent on age but also on a number of other factors like nutrition, diet, hormonal balances, and physical activity and timing of puberty.

About 99 % of growth is complete in a girl at her first menses. Similarly, the appearance of beard and moustache with cracking of voice in a boy is the hallmark of the end of growth in a boy.

Tall parents will always have tall children. Short parents will always have short children

Though genes have a major contribution in determining the final adult height of the child, growth is dependent on a number of factors mentioned above.

Thus if a child of tall parents does not get adequate nutrition, has persistent hormonal deficiencies or has early pubertal changes, this child could remain short.

On the contrary, a child with short parents if given good nutrition maintains hormonal balance and gets the pubertal changes at an appropriate age would be much taller than the average of the parent’s height.

Thus, this is not a fixed norm and should not be followed blindly.

Early intervention with a growth specialist if there are any concerns of growth would avoid unexpected final height outcomes.

Pubertal or Sexual Changes are Independent of Growth

The release of sexual hormones at puberty cause sudden increase in height in both boys and girls.

This is also called the pubertal growth spurt. This spurt is the major contributor of the final height.

Hence onsets of puberty as well as the tempo of puberty are determinants of final height.

In simple words a girl with early puberty would remain short due to early menstruation despite of having tall parents and good nutrition.

Nutrition Has No Role on the Final Height

There are a number of studies which prove that a high protein diet with essential micronutrients have a better outcome on the final height. One of the articles is attached below.

Hence, to summarize if there are any concerns regarding growth in the child, a Growth Experts opinion needs to be seek at the right time to give the child the best outcome in final height.

(The writer is Dr. Vaishakhi Rustagi, Consultant, Pedriatics/Paedriatic Endocrinology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Max Multi Speciality Centre, Pitampura)

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