askST: What are my daughter's chances of growing taller?

Reader Mrs Choo wrote in, worried about her daughter's height, and wanted to know her daughter's chances of growing taller in the next few years and whether she would have another growth spurt in that time.

Her 13-year-old daughter is 1.58m tall and hopes to grow taller, to at least 1.6m. Mrs Choo said: "She seems to have remained at the same height for the past two years."

Mrs Choo's height is 1.64m and her husband is 1.73m. Mrs Choo's 17-year-old son is 1.78m.

Mrs Choo asked: "What can she do to increase her chances of growing a few more centimetres before she reaches her adult height, if she hasn't already reached it?"

She added that her daughter is lactose-intolerant and, hence, does not drink milk regularly. She asked: "Are there any alternatives to drinking milk for a healthy calcium intake? I understand there is an optimal age range for the intake of milk to build strong bones for both young men and women. Does calcium also help one to grow taller?"

Mind&Body editor Ng Wan Ching has an answer.

There are many factors which determine a person's final adult height.

But based on the parents' heights, the daughter's predicted height should be about 162 cm, said Dr Peter Eng, a consultant endocrinologist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.

However, this is just an estimation of her genetic potential height.

There are many factors which will determine her final adult height and her genetic potential is just one of them. Many other factors are unknown.

Her parents may want to take her to consult a paediatrician or paediatric endocrinologist to exclude any hormone imbalance or other medical conditions that may impact her growth, said Dr Eng.

Whether she will grow taller in the next few years also depends on when she went into puberty. If she has already started her menses, she is at the late stage of puberty and she may not grow much more, if at all, he said.

She should eat a healthy, balanced diet to ensure adequate nutrition.

Other than that, there is not much else she can do to increase her height, said Dr Eng.

Growth hormone is  given to children who are short due to growth hormone deficiency and occasionally given to very short children even if they do not have growth hormone deficiency, he said.

As her height is 1.58 m, she is probably unlikely to have a growth hormone deficiency, he added.

Also her age would not make her a good candidate for growth hormone treatment as this is usually started before puberty.

Examples of calcium rich foods include tofu, certain leafy vegetables, ikan bilis  and calcium fortified bread or juice. Calcium will help to build stronger bones but not increase her height, said Dr Eng.

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