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Predicting a child’s height
Q: I am 5 feet 3 inches tall and my daughter’s father is 6 feet 4 inches tall. In a parenting magazine I ran across a formula that gives the approximate height your child may be. I was wondering if you know that formula.
A: Children have a “genetic potential” to reach a particular height based on the genes they inherited from their parents. But it is unpredictable which of your genes your child received, and it is complex how the genes combine to direct a child’s growth. For example, even though you’re on the shorter side and your husband is on the taller side, you may actually be carrying some “tall genes” in addition to your “short genes,” and your husband may actually be carrying some “short genes” in addition to his “tall genes.”

To make things even more complex, your own growth and your child’s growth are also influenced by conditions during pregnancy/fetal development, as well as health and nutrition during early childhood and adolescence. For example, if your mother had complications in her pregnancy with you, or you had nutrition or health issues as a child, you may not have reached your own genetic potential for height; likewise if you had complications in your pregnancy, or your daughter has health or nutrition issues during childhood.

To sum it up, no formula can accurately predict your child’s height. However, formulas have been used to help identify a likely range for a child’s adult height. One popular one involves taking your child’s height at age 2 and doubling it—your child is likely to grow up to be around that height.

Some doctors use the following formula:

1. Find the average of the parents’ height by adding together the mother’s and father’s height (either in inches or centimeters) and dividing by 2.

2. To calculate the height of a boy, add 2.5 inches (6.5 centimeters) to the average of the parents’ height. To calculate the height of a girl, subtract 2.5 inches (6.5 centimeters) to the average of the parents’ height.

3. The resulting number is the “mid-parental height” for girls or boys. The child’s adult height can be expected to fall within a range of 4 inches (10 centimeters) less or more than the mid-parental height.

Using your family as an example: Add your height in inches and your daughter’s father’s height in inches and you get 139 inches. Divide by two—that’s 69.5 inches. Since you have a girl, subtract 2½ inches, which is 67 inches. According to this formula, your daughter is likely to grow up to be around 5 feet 7. She will likely be between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 11 inches.

As you can see, there is a very wide range for your daughter’s expected height. If you do everything you can to promote her good nutrition and health, you can help her grow to her full potential.