Expanding grocery lists and empty refrigerators are often the first indicators to parents that their sons have started the rapid growth associated with adolescence. Once puberty begins, a boy may continue to grow for another five to six years before reaching his adult size. Continued growth should be monitored by your teenager's physician at regular checkups. You and other family members may observe changes in your son's physical appearance and personality as he develops.
Most boys discontinue growth by age 16, following a rapid growth spurt between ages 12 and 15. Some young men may appear to still be growing when they are older than 16, but this is usually due to muscle development and definition, rather than bone growth.
The period during which adolescent males experience rapid physical growth is known as puberty. Beginning at around age 11, growth hormone and somatomedin-C levels begin to rise. Throughout the next several years, your son may be clumsy as his hands and feet grow more rapidly than the rest of his body. He will also experience changes in his voice, appearance and behavior. Parents and medical professionals may approximate growth duration by observing the transitions of puberty and noting when they subside. For example, a boy who is still growing may have changing pitches in his voice, an oily complexion, increased appetite and an irritable disposition.
Beginning in infancy, a child's pediatrician will measure his height and weight, and plot the figures on growth charts. Observable patterns in a boy's growth, and its relation to other boys of the same age, can help medical professionals monitor growth spurts during puberty and ensure that growth is continuing at a normal rate. Abnormal patterns, such as growth slowing prematurely or excessively rapid development, can help physicians identify medical conditions, growth plate injuries or nutritional dysfunction.
Pediatricians may be able to predict a boy's ultimate height and weight by observing the sizes of his parents. A boy who remains significantly smaller than his parents may still be continuing to grow. The Adolescent Health Curriculum at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine cites a formula for predicting a boy's full-grown height in centimeters, which involves adding 13 cm to his father's height, adding the total to his mother's height and dividing the sum by two. Body mass index should also be monitored. Normally developing children experience a declining body mass index until they are between 4 to 6 years old, followed by gradual increases through late childhood, puberty and adulthood.