How important is height, really?

How short is too short? Parents, we know it can be concerning when you see your child’s classmates standing head-and-shoulders above them. The question is, when is it – if ever – appropriate to seek a medical solution?

You may have heard that the human growth hormone (HGH) is the answer, but using it may come with potential health risks – and that’s the last thing you want for your child.

What is human growth hormone (HGH)?

HGH is produced by your pituitary gland and the amount of HGH is the main element in determining your child’s height.

However, it’s not the only factor that has an influence on height, you need to consider your genetics: If you and your partner aren’t tall, it’s unlikely that your child will tower above others.

Will your child benefit?

HGH is normally prescribed for children who have poor growth due to certain medical conditions such as Turner’s syndrome, chronic kidney insufficiency, pituitary tumours and HGH deficiency and it can save their life. But if your child has a clean bill of health, it really isn’t necessary.

The truth is that even if it’s prescribed, expectations tend to be unrealistic; HGH will never make your child sprout up by 20 centimetres. Experts agree that, at most, your child may be 2.5cm – 7.5cm taller as an adult.

The risks

It is currently unknown whether HGH causes medical complications in adulthood. In theory, growth hormone may increase the risk of diabetes and even specific cancers, but this has not been proven.

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What we can say for sure is that HGH is very expensive; the majority of people will be unable to afford it.

Dr Patricia Vuguin, a paediatric endocrinologist at Cohen Children’s Medical Centre in New Hyde Park, N.Y., comments, “You have to think, how important is an inch or two of extra height in the big picture? Is the difference between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 6 inches that important?”

Successful Hollywood actor, Danny DeVito, standing at 5 feet, would definitely say that there is no connection between height and level of accomplishment.

Remember, it’s your child’s individualities that shapes who they are. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, rather let them be themselves – who wants to be average, anyway?

By Grant Wood