The body length of an average person more than triples between birth and young adulthood. Most people reach their maximum height by their early 20s, but some growth does continue as we age.
If you have questions or concerns about the growth or physical development of your child, it’s a good idea to consult with your primary care doctor.
The skeletal system is generally fully formed by a person’s late teens, and most bones in the body are finished growing by the conclusion of puberty.
That said, everyone grows at a different rate. Some children experience so-called “growth spurts” in pre-adolescence while others grow rapidly during their teens.
Why do We Stop Growing?
Research indicates that we stop growing because we are genetically programmed to do so. How—and how much—we grow is largely dictated by our genes.
Our genetic codes control our individual growing processes, and when our bones, organs, and reproductive systems have matured, the purposes for continued physical growth are complete. Near the end of puberty, the reproductive glands in both males and females increase the production of the hormone estrogen. This increased concentration of estrogen in the blood causes the growth plates of our bones to fuse, closing the growth centers of most bones and rendering them unable to respond to the hormones that initiate growth.
There are factors that can impact a person’s growth, from birth defects to endocrine disorders to nutritional deficiencies.
Bones that Continue Growing
While most people are unlikely to grow taller after about age 20, some bones keep growing as we age.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine found that the pelvis continues to widen over time. On average, the pelvic diameter increases about an inch between the ages of 20 and 79, which translates to an approximately three-inch increase in waist size.
Our skulls also grow slightly larger with age, shifting the forehead forward and pulling the cheekbones farther back. Although it has been said that our ears and noses also never stop growing, this is a bit illusory; the changes in our ears and noses with age is really due to the deterioration of cartilage, which causes them to droop and sag.
If you live in the greater Littleton, Colorado, area and you’re seeking a knowledgeable and compassionate primary care physician for you and your family, please contact Dr. Andy Fine online or call 303-703-8583 today.