Children have two periods of remarkable physical development: the first 1000 days of life (from beginning of the pregnancy to 24 months of age) and the stage of puberty. These two stages, if the child is provided with adequate nutrients and has a healthy living environment, the optimal height will be achieved.




The first 1000 days period


The first 1,000 days of life are emphasized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a golden stage of height and physical development. Children can increase 25cm in the first year and 10cm each year in the next 2 years, if provided with the right nutrition and enough. This is a decisive period to 60% of the child's height growth in the future.

Your child under 12 months old reaches the fastest growth rate compared to all other periods. Your baby weighs twice as much as a newborn for the first 4-5 months and three times that of a newborn by the end of the first year. By the baby's first birthday, the child's lying length (ie the child's height) has increased by one and a half times the length at birth.

Many studies show that, in developing countries, including Vietnam, the stage of children with the highest risk of malnutrition is from 12-24 months of age, and the rate of undernutrition remains high until 60 months (5 years old). Children who are malnourished in the first 2 years of life will have their physical development impacted, especially the height of adolescent children. These kids' brain development will also be not as good as others. Children under 2 years old are also in a period of transition of nurturing (weaning and then gradually moving to family meals), and at the same time, children are susceptible to infections, especially diarrhea and inflammation of the airways. Therefore, at this stage, children need more careful care.

After 2 years, the growth rate is not so fast, at about 6.2 cm per year, bone density also increases by about 1% per year in both boys and girls. However, having a nutritious diet that will continue to support the healthy development of bones is a prerequisite for height growth in the teenage years.


The first 1000 days: a unique window of opportunity to shape ...


Puberty period


Puberty period (from 12-18 years old) is characterized by outstanding growth in both muscles, skeleton as well as sexual functions. Rapid growth rates in both height, weight and children will reach the peak of height growth when the child can increase about 10-15 cm / year and the growth will decrease gradually. At the age of 10 years, girls increase by 10 cm in height each year and gradually increase until they reach 15 cm a year at the age of 12. The peak growth rate of boys is 12 years (10cm / year) and reaches up to 14 years old (15 cm / year). Growth rate will decrease gradually between about 15 years old in women and around 17 years old in men. The time to grow tallest in women is from 8-17 years old, decisive to 23% of average height in adults. Bone size, bone mass and mineral density in each bone increase by about 4% per year from infancy through adolescence. Rapid accumulation of bone mass has been implicated in height growth and development and possibly the growing activity of hormones such as IGF-1, sex steroids and hormone receptors. The role of diet becomes even more important for the development of the child's body during this period. The main nutrients for growth and development include protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, iodine, and zinc. In addition, there is a role of hormone GH and sex hormones. During this period, the body has a lot of potential to overcome the growth retardation caused by lack of nutrition in earlier stages. Note that the use of hormone replacement drugs is only used in cases where the child has been closely examined clinically and subclinical for definitive diagnosis, absolutely not arbitrarily using these hormone replacement drugs will not work. use and danger to the child's life.



Many studies also show that, in the following years, when the body is absorbing nutrients properly, actively practicing sports in a healthy environment and lifestyle, human height will continue to increase slightly until 25 years old in women and 28 years old in men.

Most newly born Vietnamese children have the same length as children born in other countries in the world (over 50 cm), but from 3 years of age, the height gap of Vietnamese children is different. gradually and gradually left behind by children worldwide. The average height of Vietnamese adults is currently in the group of countries with low-height in Asia and far behind from European countries, although the child malnutrition prevention program is implemented by the Institute of Nutrition in many countries, significant effects have been achieved in terms of improving child height over the past decade. However, the criteria in life to help develop optimal height in most regions have not yet been achieved such as ensuring adequate nutrition, no lack of food, no shortage of micronutrients, and a healthy living environment. bacteria, dust, chemicals…. Therefore, capturing the height growth stages of children along with factors affecting height, especially proper nutrition, helps parents to have timely interventions to help children achieve afternoon. optimal height.


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Dr. Phan Bích Nga - National Institute of Nutrition

Amvipharm Editing team

(Referred from the National Institution of Nutrition - Ministry of Health)


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