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What should parents know about their child's height?

Update: August, 24/2020 - 09:54

 

Dr. Collin Jean-Louis Philippe. — Photo Family Medical Practice

By Dr. Collin Jean-Louis Philippe*

Will my child be short, tall, or average? It's a question many parents ask, but many times, parents can even raise a false alarm of development issues.

Here are a few facts about height in children that every parent needs to know.

Age-by-age guide to your kid's height

According to WHO, at each milestone, children have height and weight standards, which parents should check to make sure their children are at the normal stage.

Factors affect your kid's height

The main factor that influences a person's height is his/her genetic makeup. However, many other factors can change height during development, including nutrition, hormones, activity levels, and medical conditions. Scientists believe that genetic makeup, or DNA, is responsible for about 80 per cent of a person's height. For instance, this means that tall people tend to have children who also grow up to be tall.

In addition to genetic and biological determinants, height is also influenced by environmental factors, including the mother's nutritional status during pregnancy, whether she smoked, and her exposure to hazardous substances. A well-nourished, healthy and active child is likely to be taller as an adult than will be a child with a poor diet, infectious diseases, or inadequate health care. Socio-economic factors such as income, education and occupation can also influence height. In some cases, ethnicity plays a role in adult height.

How to increase height during development

People cannot control most of the factors that influence their height. It is because they are determined by DNA, which they cannot change.

However, some factors can increase or reduce growth during childhood. Growing children can take some steps to maximise their adult height. These include:

Ensuring good nutrition

Nutrition plays a critical role in growth. Children without proper diet may not be as tall as children with adequate nutrition.

Nutritionists recommend that children and young people eat a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. It will ensure that they get all the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive.

Protein and calcium are particularly important for bone health and growth. Some protein-rich foods include:

●        meat

●        poultry

●        seafood

●        eggs

●        legumes

●        nuts and seeds

Some calcium-rich foods include:

●        yogurt

●        milk

●        cheese

●        broccoli

●        kale

●        soybeans

●        oranges

●        sardines

●        salmon

Ensuring proper nutrition during pregnancy is also essential for the bone health and growth of the fetus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that pregnant women consume a variety of foods, including "green and orange vegetables, meat, fish, beans, nuts, pasteurised dairy products, and fruit."

Teach the right posture

To increase your child's height, it is integral that he has a proper posture. Slumping or slouching can put unnecessary stress on the spine, which can have many adverse effects on the body. Additionally, poor posture can alter the shape of your child's spine, which can compromise their growth. Ensure that your child practises a good position not only to increase his height but also to prevent any long term health issues. Remind him to sit and stand up straight every time you see him lounging.

Absorbing Sunlight

Sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps in muscle and bone growth, which will help increase your child's height. Vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium from your diet and helps in strengthening your bones. So please encourage your child to leave his video games and step out in the sun and play. Remember to keep your child indoors during the warmest hours of the day and wear sunscreen to protect his skin from harmful UV rays of the sun. Other sources of vitamin D include fatty fish and seafood, mushrooms and egg yolks.

A small reminder for parents:

Many parents probably think the more calcium they provide for children, the better their height. But over-consumption calcium can lead to hyperparathyroidism in children, which causes various symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, stomach pain and digestive problems, and bone pain and muscle weakness. Parents should follow the right amount of calcium consumption for children (depend on different milestones).

On the other hand, children need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium. Without it, calcium can't get where it needs to go to build strong bones. Parents should remember to balance vitamin D and calcium on both activities and diet.

Getting enough sleep

Sleep promotes growth and development in children and teenagers. During deep sleep, the body releases the hormones it needs to grow. Getting enough sleep may, therefore, allow optimal growth.

Getting regular exercise

Even if they are simple, stretching exercises can have a massive impact on your child's height. Introducing your child to stretching exercises from a young age will facilitate the process of height growth. Stretching helps elongate the spine and also improves the posture of your child at all times. The exercises can be simple ones. Make him stand on his toes with his back against the wall and stretch the muscles in his leg while reaching up simultaneously. Another simple exercise for stretching involves the child sitting on the floor with his legs wide apart, and reaching the toes of both legs with his arms.

Swimming is another healthy habit, one which helps your child stay active and enjoy it, too. Swimming is a full-body exercise, meaning that it works all the muscles in the body to significant effect. Swimming for a long time can help your child lose any extra fat presently, making him healthier as a whole. The exercise involves a lot of stretching forward, strengthening the spine, and laying the groundwork for a tall, healthy body. Swimming is also a highly enjoyable activity- no child has ever said no to playing in the water!

If you have concerns, talk with your doctor. The doctor can examine your child, ask questions about your family history and, if needed, order tests to see if there's a medical condition affecting growth. — Family Medical Practice

*Dr. Collin graduated from the University of Angers France in 1974 with a diploma as a Medical Doctor and a diploma as a Paediatrician. He subsequently from 1985-2002 received diplomas in antibiotic usage, medical and biological statistics, health, organisation and economy, organ transplant from universities of Nantes, Curie, Paris and Lyon.

Dr. Collin is a member of the French Society of Paediatrics, American Society of Nephrologists, and the Paediatric Academy Societies.

Family Medical Practice was the first foreign-owned primary healthcare provider in Việt Nam, and has consistently remained at the forefront of international-standard medicine since 1995. It offers extensive healthcare and emergency medical services nationwide to Vietnamese, expatriate and corporate customers.

For more advice on any medical topics, visit Family Medical Practice Hanoi at: 298 I Kim Mã, Ba Đình. Tel: (024) 3843 0748.  E: hanoi@vietnammedicalpractice.com.

FMP’s downtown HCM City location is: Diamond Plaza, 34 Lê Duẩn, District 1; 95 Thảo Điền, District 2. Tel: (028) 38227848. E: hcmc@vietnammedicalpractice.com

FMP Đà Nẵng is located at 96-98 Nguyễn Văn Linh, Hải Châu District, Đà Nẵng. Tel: (0236) 3582 699. E: danang@vietnammedicalpractice.com.

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