Parents often wonder how tall their children will be when they grow up. Also, kids and young teens might ask how tall they will be as an adult.
While nobody can look far into the future, we’ll present 5 height calculators that give parents, kids, and pediatricians a good adult height prediction.
The most accurate method to predict the adult height of children and adolescents is to diagnose the bone age trough a radiograph examination by a doctor.
However, there are further child height calculators that might not be as accurate but can give guidance for your kid’s growth development.
Here are 5 height predictor methods plus 2 online height calculators:
1. Greulich-Plye (GP) Method
The Greulich and Pyle standards are the most widely used age estimation all over the world. They consist of two series of standard plates obtained from hand-wrist X-rays of white, upper-class boys and girls between 1931 and 1942.
This method is simple and quick to carry out. The radiograph of the left hand to be assessed is compared with the series of standard plates in the Greulich-Plye atlas and matched to the standard plate that fits most closely.
The growth development of the standard plate is used to predict the adult height. The GP method underlies the assumption that all bones have an identical skeletal age, and that the appearance and subsequent development of the body centers follow a fixed pattern.
However, evidence suggests that there is a wide variation in the pattern of ossification of the different bones of the hand. Also, the GP standards should be used with caution when applied to populations of a different ethnicity or for children with growth retardation.
2. Tanner-Whitehouse-3 (TW3) Method
Like the GP method, the Tanner-Whitehouse 3 (TW3) method uses left-wrist radiographs to determine the bone age. Radiographs of the hand and wrist are suitable for bone age assessment because the hand and wrist possess many bones and taking radiographs of the hand and wrist is easy.
The original TW2 method was developed using radiographs of average socioeconomic class children in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and 1960s. The Tanner-Whitehouse 3 (TW3) method was published in 2001 and updates the relationship between the total bone maturity score and bone age.
The scoring method of the TW3 method is more objective than the atlas method, and therefore, the TW3 method is considered to have higher reproducibility than the GP method.
3. Bayley-Pinneau (BP) Method
The Bayley and Pinneau (BP) method is most commonly used for height prediction. The height prediction tables were developed by Bayley and Pinneau in 1950 and revised in 1959.
They have been established according to the bone age assessment standards of Greulich and Plye. The tables can be used for children from the age of 6 years and become more accurate with advancing bone age.
However, according to a study published in 2013, the Bayley-Pinneau (BP) method highly overestimates adult height in children with average and accelerated bone age. Also, there seems to be a clear underestimation for children with retarded bone age.
4. Khamis-Roche Method
The Khamis-Roche Method predicts adult stature, without determining the bone age. It uses age, gender, child height and weight, mother height, and father height. This method is valid for children above the age of 4.
Although the Khamis-Roche method is considered an accurate predictor, it is not as accurate as methods using the bone age.
5. CDC Growth Charts
CDC Growth Chart; Boys: 2 to 20 years; Stature-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles
Pediatric growth charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been used over decades by pediatricians, nurses, and parents in the US to track the growth of infants, children, and adolescents.
The growth charts consist of percentile curves that illustrate the weight, height, and head circumference of the reference population. Percentiles rank the position of an individual by indicating what percent of the reference population the individual would equal or exceed.
For example, if a girl’s height is at the 50th percentile line, that means that out of 100 normal children her age, 50 will be taller than she is and 50 shorter. Similarly, if she is in the 75th percentile, that means she is taller than 75 children and shorter than 25.
By following the growth curve you can predict the height of the children and adolescents when they become 20 years old. However, the growth charts are primarily designed to monitor the rate of growth to detect any abnormalities in the development of children and adolescents.
The growth charts can be downloaded at the CDC website.
Online Height Calculators
Online height calculators try to predict the adult height of children and adolescents by simply entering personal data. These height calculators can give you an educated guess about the adult height, but the previously described methods lead to more accurate results.
The Adult Height Predictor of BoneXpert was created based on the BP (Bayley-Pinneau) method. Recently mathematics and data have been improved and parts of the new Tanner-Whitehouse method have been included.
The calculator shows the expected adult height if you input the gender, ethnicity, bone age, age, height, the father’s height, and the mother’s height.
Tall.Life provides two types of height calculators. One is applying the Khamis-Roche method, and the other one simply uses the height of the parents.
For a boy, 2.5 inches (6.5cm) are added to the average height of the parents and for a girl, 2.5 inches (6.5cm) are subtracted from the average height. The calculation is simple but there is no scientific data backing this method.
The most accurate methods to predict the adult height of children and adolescents are certainly the methods based on the bone age. Although those methods are scientifically investigated, they should be used with caution. Natural variations in growth development and environmental factors are not taken into account.
Several factors can negatively affect adult height, such as chronic illnesses, underweight, or eating disorders. It's also important to note that children grow at different rates. Some children begin their growth phases early, while others are late bloomers.
If you are concerned about your child’s height or think that your child may be growing too slow or too fast, seek advice from your pediatrician. Even healthy children and adolescents should be seen by their doctors at least every 2 years to see if their growth is normal. Remember, once adolescents complete puberty, they usually stop growing.
What height prediction method are you using to measure the height of your children? Let us know in the comment section.
Alshamrani, K., Messina, F. & Offiah, A.C. (2019). Is the Greulich and Pyle atlas applicable to all ethnicities? A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00330-018-5792-5
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, June). Clinical Growth Charts.
Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/clinical_charts.htm
Gilsanz, V., Ratib, O. (2005). Hand Bone Age. A Digital Atlas of Skeletal Maturity. Springer Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Retrieved from https://www.chospab.es/biblioteca/DOCUMENTOS/Atlas_of_Hand_Bone_Age.pdf
Khamis, H. J., & Roche, A. F. (1994). Predicting adult stature without using skeletal age: the Khamis-Roche method. Pediatrics.
Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7936860/
Oh, Y.J., Yu, B.K., Shin, J.Y., Lee, K.H., Park, S.H., Lee, K.C., & Son, C.S. (2009). Comparison of predicted adult heights measured by Bayley-Pinneau and Tanner-Whitehouse 3 methods in normal children, those with precocious puberty and with constitutional growth delay.
Retrieved from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Comparison-of-predicted-adult-heights-measured-by-3-Oh-Yu/aec4e26b8ef2a19211eab8ea5e115edc3c26597b
Reinehr T, Hoffmann E, Rothermel J, Lehrian T, J, Brämswig J, Binder G. (2019). A New Model of Adult Height Prediction Validated in Boys with Constitutional Delay of Growth and Puberty.
Retrieved from https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/499712#
Satoh M. (2015). Bone age: assessment methods and clinical applications. Clinical pediatric endocrinology : case reports and clinical investigations: official journal of the Japanese Society for Pediatric Endocrinology.
Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1297/cpe.24.143
Swanson, W.S. (2015, January). How to Read a Growth Chart: Percentiles Explained.
Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/Glands-Growth-Disorders/Pages/Growth-Charts-By-the-Numbers.aspx
Tarim, O. (2016, May). Accuracy of Height Prediction by Bayley Pinneau Method. J Pediatri Endocrinol.
Retrieved from https://austinpublishinggroup.com/pediatric-endocrinology/fulltext/jpe-v1-id1002.php#:~:text=Bayley%20and%20Pinneau%20(BP)%20method,Greulich%20and%20Pyle%20%5B1%5D
Tarim, O. (2013). Height predictions by Bayley-Pinneau method may misguide pediatric endocrinologists. The Turkish journal of pediatrics.
Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24382528/