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Will My Child Be Tall or Short?

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It starts as soon as your baby is born—sometimes even when he or she is still in utero; wondering about, and even trying to predict, your child’s adult height. It’s a universal sight: new moms gathered in the pediatrician’s office, growth charts in hand, waiting to hear from the doctor a magic “percentile.”

But is there any way to reliably predict whether your child will be tall or short? Not really. Parents’ heights may be an indication, but we’ve all seen tall parents with short children and vice versa. “Because of genetic familial influences on patterns of growth, it can be difficult to try to predict someone’s ultimate height,” says David H. Amler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Chester Pediatrics, PC, in White Plains. But, he says, “there are X-ray tests that can help with trying to make a prediction.” What about all those “formulas” for predicting a child’s adult height—the parents’ heights added then divided by two plus two inches, say? Are there any reliable ones? “Not that I’ve seen,” says Dr. Amler. “The old ‘rule of thumb’ was to double the height at age two, but, honestly, that doesn’t always work”

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