How Do Your Children Grow?

Meds and other factors can impact growth

By Pat Lawson Muse
|  Thursday, Nov 15, 2012  |  Updated 10:39 PM EDT
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<a href=Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md., answers some questions about child growth." />

Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md., answers some questions about child growth.

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Did you notice on election night how much first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama have grown over the past four years? They’re obviously eating well from the White House garden!

Most children grow fast at that age, but these days it seems kids are growing faster than ever.  So what’s the new normal?

Pediatricians say on average, expect a child to add 10 inches in length and triple their weight between birth and the first birthday. After that, the growing slows down.  Kids add about 5 inches and 6 pounds between 12 and 24 months, and average 2½ inches and 6 pounds each year from ages 2 to 10. During puberty, there’s a growth explosion. Girls can sprout up to 9 inches, gaining 15 to 55 pounds. Boys add an average 11 inches and up to 65 pounds.

Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md., sees a lot of these children in her practice.  She says new research shows asthma meds can affect a child’s growth.

“This has been studied a very long time,” she said.  “The latest research published in the September edition of the New England Journal of Medicine found that in the first two years of treatment, children who take relatively high doses of inhaled corticosteroids, the most prominent, maintenance medication, will lose about  ½  an inch of their overall adult height,” she said.

But don't worry.

“Even if your child is on that medication for a decade, the research shows the child is still only going to lose that ½ inch, but at least the child will be healthy, in school and doing well. So there’s a risk benefit,” Dr. Jackie said.

Many moms may assume that the size of their baby at birth is an indicator of how tall the child will grow.  Not so.

“Just because you have a baby bigger than your Butterball turkey this Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a tall child,” according to Dr. Jackie. “There are a lot of factors and basically growth is genetic, but generally, firstborns and multiples will be smaller because there’s not a lot of room in the uterus. Obese and diabetic mothers may have bigger babies.  An asthmatic mother will have a smaller bab.” 

A few other interesting growth facts! Girls grow earlier but stop growing about three years after their first period. In boys, growth spurts tend to happen later and longer, through their teen years. Also, we know kids grow when they sleep.

“That’s because sleep releases their growth hormones,” Dr. Jackie said.

And although experts don’t know just why, believe it or not, kids grow faster in warmer weather -- just like we’re sure those veggies must grow in the White House garden.

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