Growth Lay Summaries

International standards for height may not be appropriate for Australian children

Keywords: growth standard, growth reference, height, Australia

What is already known about this subject:

  • A child’s height depends on his/her gender and age. Reference measures make it easier to determine how an individual child’s height compares to their peers.
  • Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) produce height references or standards for children but it is not known if they are relevant to Australian children.

What this Raine study adds:

  • Height measurements from 2-16 year old Australian children (including Raine participants) were standardised using CDC and WHO methods, and found that neither method accurately represented Australian children.
  • An Australian-specific standard/reference may be more appropriate for Australian children.

Hughes, I., Harris, M., Cotterill, A., Garnett, S., Bannink, E., Pennell, C., … Choong, C. S. (2014). Comparison of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization references/standards for height in contemporary Australian children: Analyses of the Raine Study and Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity cohorts. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 50(11), 895-901. doi:10.1111/jpc.12672. [publink]

Identification of two gene variants contributing to height during childhood

Keywords: height, child growth patterns, genetic inheritance

What is already known about this subject:

  • Around 80 percent of the diversity in adult height is explained by genetic variation.
  • Ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) is important in appetite regulation and weight gain, and also acts via the same receptor that stimulates the release of growth hormone. This suggests that variation in the genes for ghrelin and/or its receptor may be able to influence height as well as weight.
  • No evidence has been found for an association between variations in the ghrelin gene and height or body weight, but there is some evidence to suggest that variations in the gene for the ghrelin receptor may influence height and weight. This association needs further testing in a suitable cohort.

What this Raine study adds:

  • DNA data and measures of height and weight at birth and at 1, 3, 5, 8 and 10 years of age in Raine participants revealed that two variants in the ghrelin receptor gene were associated with height.
  • One gene variant was associated with height at all ages tested; a second gene variant was associated with height at 3, 8 and 10 years of age.
  • No association was found between any of the gene variants tested and body weight or body mass index.
  • Further work is planned to see how these relationships affect adult height and weight.

Riedl, Stefan, Ian Hughes, Mark Harris, Gary M. Leong, John Beilby, Peter Sly, and Catherine S. Choong. 2012. “GH Secretagogue Receptor Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Stature throughout Childhood.” European Journal of Endocrinology 166: 1079-1085. doi:10.1530/EJE-11-1112. [publink]