‘At what age do women stop growing?’
‘How tall will I be when I grow up?’
‘Am I the right height for my age?’
These are natural questions to ask as you go through puberty. The most important thing you have to remember is that there’s no right height you’re supposed to be – whether you’re short, tall, or somewhere in between, you’re completely fine! Just be natural and be YOU!
What Affects Your Height?
It’s hard to predict the exact height you will end up being as an adult – from genetics to nutrition, there are just too many variables that can affect your growth.
Genetics. Parents pass on their eye color, blood type, and their freckles to their children – they pass on their height too.
Scientists believe that genetic makeup is responsible for about 80% of a person’s height. Tall parents to have tall children and short parents tend to have short children. However, this is not a universal rule – other factors such as nutrition, hormonal imbalances, and genetic conditions can affect a person’s height too.
When Do Girls Stop Growing (In Height)?
The rate at which girls grow during puberty usually peaks around 2 years after this transition period begins. Once girls start to menstruate, they normally grow another 3 to 4 inches. However, this can vary from one girl to another. Girls who start their period at an early age often experience more total inches of growth following the start of their period.
Aside from genetics, other factors that can have an impact on a girl’s height include:
- Genetic Conditions
Children with Turner syndrome, Noonan syndrome, and Down syndrome are expected to be shorter than their peers. On the other hand, those with Marfan syndrome tend to be taller.
Malnourished children are typically smaller and shorten than expected during childhood. But with proper nutrition, they may be able to catch up before adulthood.
The use of some medications can slow a girl’s growth. An example of this is corticosteroids. However, some chronic conditions that require corticosteroids (i.e. asthma), can also influence growth.
- Hormonal Imbalances
Low thyroid or growth hormone levels can lead to slower growth rates and shorter adult height.
- Chronic Illness
Long-term health conditions, such as kidney disease, celiac disease, and cystic fibrosis can lead to a shorter adult height. Children who have had cancer may also end up shorter in adulthood.
Puberty: When Does It Start and End for Girls?
As girls go through puberty, they tend to experience a growth spurt that takes them to their adult height.
In girls, puberty tends to start between the ages of 10 and 14; the average age for girls to start puberty is at around 11, but it varies for everyone. For some, puberty can start earlier or later, and that’s totally normal. It typically lasts until a person is around 16.
In girls, puberty before the age of 8 is atypical. Further, it is also considered atypical if a girl has not developed breasts by the time she turns 13, or has not started menstruating by the age of 16. These situations need medical attention for further assessment.
During puberty, girls experience an acceleration in growth and will start to menstruate. Some girls may experience intense sexual feelings and thoughts. They may start getting pimples and breakouts, and the hair on their legs may get darker. The hormones linked with puberty may also make teenage girls feel moody or emotional – this is totally normal.
How puberty affects growth. Typically, girls have a growth spurt in the 1 – 2 years before menstruation starts. As mentioned, for most girls, puberty is between 10 – 13 years old; while the growth spurt occurs between 10 – 14 years old. They grow just 1 – 2 additional inches in the year or two after they start menstruating. This is when they reach their adult height.
Most girls reach their adult height by the age of 14 or 15. This age could be younger, depending on when a girl first starts menstruating.
Do Girls Grow Faster Than Boys?
At the start of puberty, girls tend to have a higher average height by age. The reason? Puberty starts earlier for girls. As mentioned, puberty for girls starts at around 10 – boys don’t usually start puberty until 12 or 13!
However, once puberty kicks in, boys catch up pretty quickly. The average adult height for men is 70 inches; on the other hand, the average adult height for women is 64 inches. Most boys reach their adult height by 16.
Median Height for Girls
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average, age-adjusted height for adult women 20 years old and above is 63.7 inches – that’s just under 5’4”.
Height by Age. At 8 years old, the earliest start of puberty for girls, half of all American girls will be just under 50.2 inches tall. This means that a lot of growth happens during a short span of time.
The following information comes from a CDC chart:
|Age (years)||50th percentile height for girls (inches and centimeters)|
|8||50.2 in. (127.5 cm)|
|9||52.4 in. (133 cm)|
|10||54.3 in. (138 cm)|
|11||56.7 in. (144 cm)|
|12||59.4 in. (151 cm)|
|13||61.8 in. (157 cm)|
|14||63.2 in. (160.5 cm)|
|15||63.8 in. (162 cm)|
|16||64 in. (162.5 cm)|
|17||64 in. (163 cm)|
|18||64 in. (163 cm)|
Most girls start growing rapidly at around 10 years old. At 10, girls are 54 inches on average; the average 13-year-old height is 62 inches – that’s an average of 8 inches in just 3 years!
After girls reach 13 years old, their growth tends to slow down to around an inch each year – the average 14-year-old height is 63 inches. A year after that, they’re already 64 inches which is the average height for 15-year-old girls.
Why Did I Stop Growing?
Research indicates that people stop growing because they are genetically programmed to do so. How – and how much – you grow is mainly dictated by your genes.
Your genetic codes control your growing process, and when your organs, bones, and reproductive systems have matured, the purposes for continued physical growth are complete. Near the end of puberty, the reproductive glands in both females and males increase the production of the hormone estrogen. This increased estrogen concentration in the blood causes the growth plates of your bones to fuse, closing the growth centers of most bones, rendering them unable to respond to the hormones that trigger growth.
There are several factors that can affect a person’s growth, from birth defects to nutritional deficiencies to endocrine disorders.
How to Increase Height During Development
While you can’t control most factors that influence your height (i.e. genetics), there are some factors that can reduce or increase growth during childhood and puberty. Growing girls can take some steps to maximize their adult height, including:
- Get the right amount of sleep. Sleep promotes development and growth in children and teenagers. During deep sleep, the body releases the hormones it requires to develop and grow – production of this hormone and others may go down if you don’t get enough sleep.
Experts recommend that:
- Newborns up to 3 months old get 14 to 17 hours of sleep every day
- Infants ages 3 to 11 months get 12 to 17 hours of sleep
- Toddlers ages 1 to 2 years old get 11 to 14 hours of sleep
- Young children ages 3 to 5 years old get 10 to 13 hours of sleep
- Children ages 6 to 13 years old get 9 to 11 hours of sleep
- Teenagers ages 14 to 17 get 8 to 10 hours of sleep
- Adults ages 18 – 64 years old get 7 to 9 hours of sleep
- Older adults ages 65 and older get 7 to 8 hours of sleep
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Nutrition plays a crucial role in your growth. Children who don’t eat a healthy and well-balanced diet may not be as tall as children who get adequate nutrition. Nutritionists suggest that children and teenagers eat a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables; this ensures that they get all of the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive.
Calcium and protein are particularly important for bone health and growth. Some protein-rich foods include:
- Nuts and Seeds
Some calcium-rich foods include:
You should limit or avoid foods containing sugar, saturated fats, and trans fats.
- Stay active. Regular exercise has numerous health benefits. It strengthens your bones and muscles, and helps you to maintain a healthy weight, plus it promotes HGH production. Children should get at least an hour of exercise each day. During this time, they should focus on flexibility exercises (i.e. yoga), strength-building exercises (i.e. sit-ups), and aerobic exercises (i.e. biking).
Exercising as an adult has benefits, too. In addition to helping maintain your overall health, it can also help reduce your risk of osteoporosis – this condition occurs when your bones become brittle or weak, result in bone density loss; this can cause you to ‘shrink’.
The Bottom Line
Girls may gain a foot or more in height from childhood to adulthood. Eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are all great habits that can help girls grow in a healthy way.
If you have any concerns about your child’s growth, contact your doctor sooner rather than later.