What Age Do Girls Stop Growing?

Your Little Girl Is Growing Up

The age at which girls reach their full adult height tends to correlate with certain markers of puberty.

Mom, think back to how it was for you; not so long ago you were growing up yourself. Now it's your daughter's turn. Though you'll be there to help when you can, she'll grow at her own pace both literally and figuratively. As far as physical development goes, there are markers along the way to watch for. You can't magically forecast the day that she'll reach her full adult height, but you can get a pretty good idea by keeping a record of the milestones of puberty.

The Connection Between Puberty and Height

A general timeline for puberty begins when a girl's breasts "bud." These breast buds are nickel-sized bumps under her nipples, and typically occur around age 9 or 10, although they may occur much earlier or somewhat later. Soon after that, her hips start to swell. She might shoot up quite suddenly and tower above the boys in her middle-school class (who typically reach puberty a year or so behind the girls). She will discover patches of hair sprouting up in new places, and she'll sweat, often profusely. About 1 1/2-3 years after the first appearance of the breast buds, she'll get her period and all that comes with it. It's not unusual for a girl's arms and legs to grow a little faster than the rest of her body.

Remember, this is an approximate timeline only and doesn't apply to everyone. In fact, over the course of the past century, the "average" ages for the stages of puberty have changed quite dramatically. Girls at the turn of the 20th century got their periods at 16 or 17, while these days the average is 13 or under.

The Particulars of Height

You can make an educated guess about when your daughter will eventually reach her full height by noting when the first signs of puberty appear and later, when she begins to menstruate. There's a good chance that she'll reach adult height approximately 2 years after she first gets her period. However, the earlier she begins puberty, the sooner a girl is likely to attain her full height.

Of course, not everyone starts puberty at the same time, and not everyone has the same rate of growth. Many—but not all—girls grow the fastest between 6 months to 2 years before they start their period, with growth spurts between 2 and 8 inches. A lot of individual development is in the genes, but environmental factors, such as diet and obesity, can be factors too. Recent studies indicate that some chemicals mimic human hormones and may also play a role. Obese girls have higher levels of the hormone leptin, which can help bring about early puberty and faster physical maturity in general. Children who go through early puberty may be shorter than average adults because their bones may stop growing at a younger age. They are also at increased risk of obesity as adults. Since 20 percent of American children are now considered to be obese, kids who develop the habit of healthy eating early in life will have a better chance of reaching their full potential for growth.

At any rate, no matter when your daughter stops growing physically, she'll continue to grow in many other ways for the rest of her life.

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