Height and puberty correspond to each other, but you've probably noticed that some teenagers get taller well after they've left puberty. Nutrition, gender and the body's own growth plates help determine the timing and velocity of that growth. Because of these complex interactions, it's tough to predict when the height gain happens.
Range of Development
Girls enter puberty around age 11, around two years before boys. The growth spurt range depends on pre-pubertal height and growth potential. Girls on average reach their maximum physical height at age 15, and boys at age 17. The averages are rough estimates due to variations in growth potential, nutrition and even ethnicity.
Just because a child reaches sexual maturity -- which is usually the end point of puberty -- doesn't mean the body stops growing. Humans have growth plates that may not close until the early 20s, especially in males. Boys have growth plates that stay open approximately two years longer than females. That's why a kid who stays around a certain height through high school can suddenly shoot up in height a few years later.
Teenagers with active pituitary glands also experience longer periods of growth due to increased production of growth hormone. That production can delay closure of the growth plates. Additionally, a teenager may have restricted her calories during puberty. That can also delay physical growth until she's well beyond her puberty years.
Predicting Mature Growth
X-rays of growth plates can sometimes determine a teen's height potential, but that's not a common thing for people to do. Most teenagers just use the height of both parents to predict their mature height. Most children reach an adult height within 2 inches of their midparental height. For girls, subtract 13 centimeters from the fathers height, add the mother's height and then divide by two. For boys, add 13 centimeters to the father's height, add the mother's height and then divide by two.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Growth and Pubertal Development in Children and Adolescents
- Guidelines for Adolescent Nutrition Services: Adolescent Growth and Development
- Duke Health: Your Growing Bones
- MedlinePlus: Puberty in Boys
- KidsHealth: Growth
- National Health Services: Symptoms of Puberty
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Puberty
- University of South Carolina: Puberty