Height development throughout childhood to adulthood is dependent on the process of bone elongation. The process of bone ossification is a time-consuming and multi-factorial process that requires optimization. The three stages that determine the optimal height potential in the human body are referred to as the “3 golden stages”. Let’s learn more about the concept of the “golden stages” and the impact of each stage on height through the following article by Debametulam.
Stage 1: Fetal stage
Bone tissue is continuously changing throughout our lifetime. The model of the long bone system is established during the early stages of fetal development. This lays an important foundation for the formation of the skeletal system during the subsequent stages.
From the second month of the fetal stage, bone tissues begin to appear and continuously change in the small fetus. Some basic bone parts have started to form along with the nervous system. With calcium supply from the mother’s body, minerals continue to be provided to help the fetal bones become strong and develop in length
Thanks to the fetus, the development of a baby’s bones during pregnancy until birth is a continuous process of growth and formation. Therefore, to establish a solid foundation for the height and health of the baby’s bone system, meeting adequate nutrition is the most important requirement. During the 9 months in the mother’s womb, 300 pieces of bone gradually form. Therefore, calcium and other essential minerals must be met throughout pregnancy to ensure the bone health of both mother and baby. If the calcium demand is not met, the body will “reverse” calcium from the mother’s bones, causing some bone diseases for the mother.
Stage 2: The First 1000 Days of Life
The first 1000 days of life are highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a crucial period for a child’s physical development and height. If supplemented with proper nutrition, the child’s height will increase by 25cm in the first year and 10cm in each subsequent year. This is a foundational stage that greatly influences a child’s future health and height.
The weight changes in children under 12 months are the fastest growth rate among all other developmental stages in humans. The weight of children will double compared to the first 4-5 months, and triple compared to birth. At the age of toddlerhood, the child’s height is already one and a half times taller than at birth.
Most newborns have a height of around 50cm. Many studies have shown that in developing countries, children are at high risk of malnutrition between 12 and 24 months of age. The rate of malnutrition remains relatively high for children under 5 in our country. However, this figure is gradually improving due to advances in living standards as well as the awareness of parents being reinforced and raised. In the national nutrition strategy, one of the six important goals in the vision to 2030 is to improve the nutritional awareness of mothers and children under 5.
During the first 1000 days of life, children transition through various methods of nutrition supplementation (breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and gradually transitioning to family meals). In addition, the digestive system and immunity of the child are not yet stable, so young children often face a host of issues such as diarrhea, respiratory infections, etc. Therefore, this important stage requires parents to care for their children meticulously.
Children who are not properly nourished in the first two years of life will suffer many negative impacts on their physical development. Furthermore, the brain of children is also adversely affected if their health is not properly cared for. After the age of 2, the rate of development slows down, and bone density increases by about 1% per year.
Stage 3: Adolescence
Adolescence is a stage characterized by significant physical and psychological changes. It is characterized by significant development in both muscle, bone structure, and the ability to complete the reproductive system in both genders. During adolescence, the rate of growth in height and weight is also significantly marked. The peak growth in height during this stage can reach up to 10-15 cm/year.
In females, the process of adolescence occurs earlier than in males. Therefore, female individuals tend to be taller than their male counterparts at the time of adolescence, but their development process ends earlier as well.
The average age of bone cartilage ossification is around 20 years old, and for females, this milestone may occur earlier since females tend to reach puberty earlier than males by a few years. However, if the body is properly nourished and exercises regularly in a healthy living environment, height can still be slightly improved until the age of 25. Nevertheless, this number will not be significantly higher than the previous stages before puberty.
On average, Vietnamese people’s height is among the lowest in the world. However, according to the Ministry of Health’s recent survey published at the end of 2020, based on statistics from the General Statistics Office and the National Institute of Nutrition, Vietnamese adolescents’ height has risen to fourth place in the Southeast Asian region. Over the past decade, the government’s nutrition intervention campaigns have gradually shown positive results.
Although height development is a long process, many parents and young people still overlook optimizing their height during the golden period, making it more challenging to increase their height later. Let us always focus on improving nutrition and optimizing a healthy lifestyle during the three golden periods mentioned above to improve Vietnamese adolescents’ physical development and compete with their international peers.