Growth of early and late maturers

Ann Hum Biol. May-Jun 2001;28(3):328-36. doi: 10.1080/030144601300119133.


Background: This is a study on the growth of subgroups of normal children, maturing early or late, in the variables height, leg and sitting height, arm length, biiliac and bihumeral width. While a longer growth period affects adult height only marginally, less is known about the other variables. It is also of interest to see in what way a shorter growth period is compensated by a higher velocity.

Methods: Out of 120 boys and 112 girls followed from 4 weeks until adulthood, subgroups of 40 boys and 37 girls were formed with respect to the average timing (across variables) of the pubertal spurt as an indicator of maturity.

Results: Only leg height shows a smaller adult size for early maturers. The shorter growth period is compensated by a higher prepubertal velocity and a higher level in pubertal years. The pubertal peak is a little larger for early maturing boys but not for girls.

Conclusions: There is an inherent pacemaker for growth that leads to the same adult size for a shorter growth period via a higher basic intensity. Legs are an exception since late maturers have, on average, longer legs as adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry
  • Arm / growth & development
  • Body Constitution / physiology
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Humerus / growth & development
  • Ilium / growth & development
  • Infant
  • Leg / growth & development
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Switzerland
  • Time Factors