What is the Average Height of a 12-Year-Old?

Knowing What is Normal and When to See the Doctor

Children grow and mature at different ages and rates and it is understandable to feel concerned when you notice that your child is much shorter or taller than his peers. While the average height of 12-year-olds is around 58 inches for boys and 59 inches for girls, it could be normal for your child to be quite a bit shorter or taller than average. Puberty, family history and medical considerations all play into your child's height and growth rate.

Puberty and Growth

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Until puberty, most children grow around two or three inches per year. Boys hit puberty and their largest growth spurt between 10-16 years of age, while girls hit their growth spurt about two years earlier. During this massive growth spurt, most children grow a total of 9 to 11 inches. Your child's shorter or taller stature could be due to hitting puberty and this pivotal growth spurt earlier or later than her peers. Take your family history into consideration. If you or your spouse hit puberty earlier or later than your peers, it is likely that your child will, too. Around this age, it is normal for children to become aware of and sensitive to body image issues, so encourage your child to develop a healthy self image by talking openly about development and family history.

Normal is Relative

Pediatricians use clinical height and weight growth charts to determine whether a child's growth is normal given age, family and medical history. These growth charts show that the normal height for 12-year-old children can be from 54 to 65 inches. Anytime a child suddenly drops off the growth chart or falls much lower or higher in the percentiles than in the past, doctors take notice and begin to investigate causes. If your child has always been around the 10th-percentile for height, she has likely always been shorter than her peers, and that would be completely normal for her. If your child was normally in the 65th-percentile and has dropped down to the 10th-percentile, that could be cause for concern.

When to See a Doctor

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When your child has grown less than two inches in a year, has an unusually fast growth spurt, rapidly loses weight, rapidly gains weight or experiences frequent infection, it is time to visit the doctor. Your child's pediatrician will conduct a physical examination to rule out malnutrition, autoimmune concerns, and thyroid, heart or lung conditions. Some children are found to have growth hormone deficiencies and treatment with growth hormone can help them gain up to three inches in additional height by adulthood. Most children are found to be healthy and when this is the case, your child's clean bill of health should help to put your mind at ease.

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