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.
The first — is the child growing enough per year? This is called growth velocity. Healthy non-pubertal growth is at least 2-2 ½ inches/year.
The second–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.
Finally–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.