Children, growth and development

One of the missions of 0246 is to help parents in their difficult task of raising a child and optimising physical growth in the first six years of life.

During this time a child grows quickly and tumultuously, with periods of acceleration followed by moments of stasis. Children’s growth is measured both from a physical point of view and that of psychosocial, and the two aspects are often connected together. A child grows in height, weight, and the ability to perform movements, but also develops relationship skills, from language to socialization.

Yes, I agree. But is my child growing correctly?

In the back of a parents mind there is always the same question: Is my child growing correctly? If we want to simply look at the height of a child on the basis of age, the more reliable charts of reference highlighting the relationship of height and age demographics are produced by the WHO (World Health Organization) and is visible at this address

There are also tables similarly built on data obtained from Italian children that have been produced by groups of researchers coordinated by the Italian Society of Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, and can be found at this address

or in the book “Primo Sport: The Environment and Movement for Growing Healthy”, freely downloadable from this website.

No one knows your child better than your Paediatrician.

The main reference for any information regarding the growth of your child – will be your Paediatrician, whom is often called upon to answer the question: “Will my son/daughter be tall?'” The diagrams and the graphs indicated should not be taken as a definitive that your child will be tall or short. Your Paediatrician will be able to take into account, in addition to, their age also their bone age. This can be estimated by looking at (with x-rays) the bones length (particularly those in the hand) to determine their growth process. It may be that a child who appears small for their age (low percentile) actually has a delay of bone maturation, which suggests that there is still potential for growth, having not yet been completed, which allows a prediction of final height.

What role has a parents height ?

To determine how tall a child will be, in the first years of life you can look at their state of health, the quality of life and nutrition and the height of the parents. The latter parameter becomes especially important in the years of advanced growth. There are several ways to estimate how much the parents height will affect the overall growth of a child. One of the formulas commonly used is the following:

for males: (father’s height in cm + mother’s height in cm + 12.5 cm) /2 ± 10 cm

for females: (father’s height in cm – 12.5 cm + mother’s height in cm) /2 ± 8.5 cm

Factors that influence growth,

there is no doubt that during the first six years of life the factors that influence positive growth are mainly:

– the absence of chronic diseases

– the correct protein-calorie intake

– the absence of emotional and significant physical stress

These three conditions allow the normal secretion and production of hormones that regulate the growth of a child from the early stages of life. In particular for the age group 0-6 years old the most important hormones that support and guide growth are:

– the growth hormone, also called GH, is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, an endocrine gland that regulates the activity of almost all the other endocrine glands in the body

– insulin

– thyroid hormones

the importance of proper protein and calorie intake

The lack of attention to the quality of nutrition or food intake and the development of the muscular system can produce in a child the conditions for obesity and a tendency towards metabolic syndrome in adulthood, even in the face of repeated attempts (and corresponding relapses) of correction through extreme diets.

The main tool in fighting obesity is to prevent it. Make sure that, especially in the early stages of life,  a child’s diet is adequate and correct (both in terms of quantity and quality) and that the development of muscle tissue, which is implemented through physical activity, is done correctly and is not limited by a sedentary lifestyle.

A lot of movement, from an early age

to reinforce the idea that it is necessary to focus on the development of motor skills from early childhood, some researches, run in recent years, show that the muscle can be “programmed” not only for its metabolic aspects, but also for the movement/physical activity itself. Physical activity, at the earliest age possible, seems to be the best way to develop motor skills which can persist in its benefits even as an adult.