Growth and Growing Pains

9/25/2014

A normal part of childhood is growth.  From newborn through teenage years, our bodies go through an amazing change to become an adult. 

Children grow their fastest during the first year of life.  By the time a baby turns one year of age, on average, they have grown 10 inches and tripled their birth weight.  After the first year, children still grow but not nearly as fast.  From two years of age until adolescence, a child will grow an average of 2 ½ inches per year. 

Growth during puberty is different for boys and girls.  Girls tend to start puberty earlier than boys, somewhere between the ages of eight to 13 years old.  During that time, they will have their growth spurt, reaching their final height by age 14-15 years.  Boys do not start puberty until between the ages of 10-13 years and continue to grow until about age 16.  They tend to have their growth spurt around 14-15 years of age.  Puberty usually lasts about two to five years and also is the time when sexual maturity occurs.  During this time, it is important to talk with your child about healthy habits that will allow them to attain their potential height.

These include:

  1. Sleep – most children need 10-12 hours of sleep a night to allow for adequate hormone release and growth.
  2. Nutrition – adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals to support bone and muscle growth.
  3. Exercise – this will help your child maintain a healthy weight as they grow into their new body.

It is important to remember each child grows differently at different rates.  It is not uncommon for boys to be shorter than girls early in puberty.  This can be emotionally stressful for both boys and girls. It is very important to talk with your child about normal growth and body changes.   In addition, because height is determined by our family’s genes, it is not uncommon for siblings to grow differently and maybe even be different heights when they stop growing.  Try to avoid comparing your child’s growth to others and reassure them they are healthy. 

Finally, it is important to make sure your child has a yearly physical exam.  This will allow your child’s doctor to measure, document and plot your child’s growth.

A few words about “growing pains”.  These usually occur between the ages of three to five years and then again between eight to 12 years of age.  The pain is actually caused from muscle use and is usually worse after an active day, which is why the pain usually occurs in the evening or night.  Children will complain of pain in their calves, thighs or behind the knees.  Massaging, stretching and applying heat, such as a warm bath or compress, usually helps.  Small doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also be helpful.  By morning, if the pain has not subsided, or your child has swelling and redness of a joint, fever, weakness, loss of appetite or limping, call your child’s doctor.

Childhood and puberty can be a stressful and exciting time, but, if you keep talking with your child about normal growth, healthy habits and make sure they have a yearly check-up, they will grow into healthy adults.

Robert Poth, MD is the Chief of Pediatrics at High Point Regional and a pediatrician with Regional Physicians Pediatrics in High Point.  Dr. Poth specializes in pediatric diagnostic medicine. He is board certified in pediatrics and has been caring for the medical needs of children for more than 15 years.

Dr. Poth, his wife and their two children, live in High Point. He is excited to be a part of the community here in the Triad and to bring Pediatrics back to High Point Regional.  To make an appointment with Dr. Poth, please call (336) 878-6101.

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