Physical Growth in Children and Adolescents – Causes, Stages and Problems

The physical growth of children and adolescents is essential.

When a person develops his body correctly, he has a lower risk of suffering from chronic diseases in adulthood.

For most people, physical growth occurs from birth to age 22. However, this process can be affected by diet, hormones, or genetic causes.

Read on to find out the stages of physical growth in children – and adolescents and how to avoid their problems.

What is meant by physical growth?

By definition, physical growth is the increase in body size (length, height, and weight) and the size of the organs.

For most people, physical growth lasts between birth and 22 years. The usual thing up to 12 years is increasing height at a constant speed.

Between 12-and 18 years, significant hormonal changes appear in the body. This is the cause of a rapid increase in height and body weight growth typical of adolescents.

This stage is also known as the lug and causes the height to increase up to 20% of a person’s total. (1)

Upon reaching 18 years of age, the process ends or slows down and sometimes continues through a minor growth stage that ends at 22-25 years.

Growth in adults over 25 does not exist. A person can change their height in adulthood by correcting their posture or undergoing dangerous operations.

What are the causes of growth problems?

Many factors or causes affect physical growth; malnutrition, genetics, and medications are the most frequent. The most common causes of physical growth problems are:

  1. Less amount of growth hormone

Growth hormone is one of the main molecules responsible for the complete development of height and the increase in the size of a child’s organs.

Both excess and low GHD production can affect a child’s final height. It is estimated that the effects of the growth hormones GHD and IGHD can be 3 to 30% in the absolute size of an adult. (2)

  1. Genetic diseases

Genetic diseases are one of the causes of growth disturbance in adults. For example, Down syndrome, Noonan syndrome, or Turner syndrome are diseases that significantly alter height indices.

  1. Bad nutrition

Including foods with iodine is essential for the proper development of children and adolescents. Lack of iodine is estimated to be the leading cause of nutritional growth problems. (4)

In addition, the lack of foods rich in calcium negatively affects physical growth. But they can also cause deterioration in the skeletal and muscular system. Including whole and whole foods is essential to ensure complete physical development in children and adolescents.

  1. Medications

Stimulant medications, methylphenidate, and amphetamines (used as a treatment for bipolar hyperactivity syndrome in children and adolescents) can adversely affect height.

Studies have confirmed that misuse of these medications can negatively influence physical growth. (3)

How much does genetics influence physical growth?

Genetics plays a fundamental role in physical growth. The height of parents and grandparents is one of the best indicators to estimate the final size that a child will have. In ideal conditions, it represents up to 80% of the influence on altitude. (1,2)

Genetic predispositions of ethnicity and gender are the two factors that most influence a child’s physical growth. However, the environmental and nutritional causes will determine the total development or growth problems in adulthood. (5)

While it is impossible to predict the height with a precise formula, physical growth tends to follow a curve. So if a person regularly charts a child’s height during infancy, it is possible to determine where growth is likely to end.

Genetic diseases related to the synthesis of growth hormone and other related molecules can cause a person’s growth to be significantly slower in adulthood. (2)

How do they stimulate physical growth?

When the stages of the growth period occur in an altered way, a person can end up being shorter or taller.

A child or adolescent must eat foods with high nutritional value to stimulate physical growth.

Ensuring that your diet includes sources of calcium, magnesium, iodine, and other essential nutrients is essential for a child or adolescent to develop fully.

As for physical exercise, it can help the development of some organs. Children and adolescents need to do sports or exercise with body weight.


Stages of physical growth in children and adolescents in detail

Generally, physical growth occurs from birth to age 18. In the first two years, children proliferate. After this time, growth slows little by little until adolescence. The stages of physical development are:

  1. From 0 to 2 years

Newborns’ physical growth is approximately 30% up to 5 months and more than 50% at 12 months. The average growth for babies is 10 inches during the first year.

Half of the adult height is reached in males in approximately two years. In girls, the size at 19 months is already about half of the adult height.

  1. Childhood (from 2 to 12 years old)

During preschool and school periods, physical growth is constant. Children tend to grow a similar amount each year. They begin to need fewer calories at this stage, and parents may notice a reduction in appetite.

Some children may seem to eat less but still, continue to grow. By age 5, the height is approximate twice the length of birth.

  1. Adolescence

Puberty or adolescence is different for everyone and can start from 8 to 14 years old. Usually, this stage occurs at 12 years for boys and 11 years for girls.

Physical growth in adolescence occurs over 2 to 5 years. Most children stop growing at 16-17 years and are usually fully developed by 18. In some cases, this process can continue slowly until 22.


Physical growth is defined as the increase in the organs’ height, weight, and size. The stages of the growth period are different for up to 2 years, in childhood and adolescence.

The most common causes of physical growth problems are genetic diseases and poor nutrition. Some medications to treat bipolarity and hyperactivity can adversely affect growing up.

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