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Teen Is Embarrassed About His Height

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My 17-year-old son is 5'4" tall and hasn't grown in two years. Will he grow any taller? Can anything be done at this point? He is self-conscious about his height.

A: Whether or not your son will grow any further is dependent on what stage of puberty he is in. While children grow a certain amount each year, boys usually have their big growth spurt in the later part of puberty, after the testes have grown substantially, the pubic hair has grown dense, and the penis has grown to almost its adult size.

After this growth spurt, the growth plates in the bones fuse, and there is no further increase in height. Although most boys have gotten to this point by 17, a few have not, and therefore will continue to grow even while in college. On the other hand, boys who go through puberty on the early side will have completed all of this by age 14 or 15, and then not grow any further.

Since you say your son hasn't grown in the past two years it seems more likely that he has completed his growth already, but no one can say this for sure without examining him to see if he has gone completely through puberty. If he is still is only part of the way through puberty then further growth is possible.

I recommend that you take him to see his pediatrician or an adolescent medicine or family physician (not a physician who treats only adults) with your questions. That way he can be examined, and get a more accurate assessment of his weight, height, stage of puberty, and general health.

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Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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