Quite a simple question. However, this has raised concerns in the minds of several individuals. This includes people who may be described as short and those who may have wondered if it were possible.
Just as simple as the question is, so is its answer. Yes, short parents can have tall children. Read on to find out how it is possible.
Can short parents have tall children?
This question streams from the fact that we all know that our physical attributes are inherited from our parents. As usual, height isn’t exempted from these physical attributes. Our genes dictate how tall or how short we are going to be.
On the other hand, other factors determine the height of a child. In other words, it is not only the parents of a child that are responsible for the child’s stature. This is why you may have seen kids who are way taller than their parents. You may even doubt they are their biological parents. Usually, these children have family members such as uncles, aunties, and grandparents, amongst others that are taller than his or her parents.
So, are you afraid or worried that your future kid may not like being as short as you are? Maybe you are unhappy with your height and you’re thinking of turning down one short suitor you really like? You may not have to do that as genes are not the only factors responsible for a person’s height. Your future child can grow taller than you and your (intending) spouse.
What about genetics?
So, if short parents can have a tall kid, what happens to genetics? Yes, most of everything we are, is gotten from our parents. From our skin color, hair color and texture, body build, eye color, gait, even allergies, they can all be passed down to us by our parents. And yes! A person’s height can be inherited from his or her parents.
Frequently, the norm is tall kids from tall parents and short kids from short parents. Why? That’s because genetics is a major player in an individual’s height. However, this doesn’t happen all the time.
There are cases where seemingly short parents end up with taller kids. This is still enveloped in genetics as a recessive trait. What is a recessive trait? A recessive trait is a weak, unexpressed trait of a dichotomous pair of alleles that doesn’t contribute to the phenotype of a heterozygous individual. For instance, a child who has the dominant trait for blue eyes combined with a recessive trait for brown eyes. Such a child will have blue eyes. Why? The dominant trait is expressed while the recessive trait is weak and unexpressed in such a child. However, the child can inherit two recessive traits of brown eyes, one each from his or her parents. If that becomes the case, the child will express brown eyes.
The same thing can happen in a “short parents-tall child” case. If the parents are both short heterozygous individuals, they can pass the tall recessive traits to their child. When that happens, the recessive trait becomes activated and such a child will be tall.
What about other factors?
As earlier mentioned, genes are not the only factors responsible for a person’s height. Yes, they do play an important role. According to scientists, about 60 to 80 percent of individuals’ heights are determined by genetic factors. However, other factors can come to play which amount to 20 to 40 percent. These factors could be environmental, particularly nutrition.
Mothers can influence their children’s height from the fetal stage. In pregnancy, a mother needs to consume calcium-rich foods. This helps the development of strong and healthy fetal bones which serve as a premise of later height growth.
Diet influences a person’s height-especially as a child, from age 2 to 12 years. According to research, additional 100 calories in a child’s diet can result in increased height. It recorded an increase of 0.13 inches in the height of boys and a bit less in girls. Another study also reported that increased calorie and vitamin intake corrected stunted growth in children ages 2-12 years.
In infants, a study was conducted on breastfeeding. An increase in height was attributed to children having breast milk alone for the first four months. Also, being introduced to solid foods by six months contributed to an increase in height.
Growth spurts are known to take place during puberty. During this period, there are essential nutrients that help a person gain stature (height) even beyond the limit of genes. Some of these essential nutrients that contribute to one’s growth in height include calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and magnesium.
Exercise is important to your children’s growth and health as it makes them more agile and stronger. Physical activity such as sports, helps the joints become more flexible and stimulate the secretion of the growth hormone (GH). Exercise, thus, facilitates height growth effectively.
Parents should encourage and permit their children to play sports for 1 to 2 hours per day. These sports could be basketball, volleyball, swimming, rope jumping, jogging, badminton, etc. Respective of their parents’ short stature, such children’s height will grow outstandingly.
Studies have proven that we, humans majorly grow taller during deep sleep. This is because the growth hormone (GH) is secreted most during sleep. When secreted, it stimulates the development of the joints and causes an increase in height.
Thus, parents are encouraged to ensure their children go to bed early and get enough sleep. They are also encouraged to develop and teach their children good sleep hygiene habits to facilitate good and deep sleep.
What's the take-home?
It is possible to have a tall child from relatively short parents. Whilst genetics play a major role, other modifiable factors can help increase such a child’s height. Here are 6 foods that can help kids and teens grow taller.
Can What You Eat Affect Your Height? LIVESTRONG Web Site. Retrieved from: https://www.livestrong.com
How much of human height is genetic and how much is due to nutrition? (2006). Scientific American Website. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/
Pender, R.R. (2011). Recessive Trait. Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/