This is one of the most frequently asked questions in my practice at a well child check. Obviously, genetics are the most important factor in determining a child’s final height. As I tell my shorter families, “You do not get a Great Dane from two Chihuahuas”.
As a pediatrician, I am not concerned with trying to predict final height, but rather watching for growth problems and addressing growth concerns. There are three indicators that would warrant further evaluation.
Is the child growing enough per year? This is called growth velocity. Healthy non-pubertal growth is at least 2-2 ½ inches/year.
Is the child growing correctly for his/her genetics? There is a calculation based on parental heights called the Mid-Parental Target Height (MPTH). If the child falls out of the predicted height zone, he might warrant further evaluation.
Is the child below the third percentile for his or her predicted final height?
Usually, the first step in the work up for growth concerns involves an x-ray and a simple blood test. Sometimes, a consult by a growth specialist (endocrinologist) is needed. It is important to recognize growth issues early, so please schedule yearly physicals for your children.
About the Author
Dr. Mike has been practicing general pediatrics in a suburb of Los Angeles for over 10 years. He is married and has a six year old son and a three year old daughter. He enjoys golf, football and family time. His higher education has all been through the University of California system – Bachelor of Science with honors from UCLA, his MD degree from University of California at Irvine and his pediatric training at UCLA. He is the featured pediatrician in the DVD, Newborn Care 101 – What Parents Need To Know