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Genetics is a major factor in determining the height of individuals, though it is far less influential in regard to differences among populations.Average height is relevant to the measurement of the health and wellness (standard of living and quality of life) of populations.Thus, there is a cumulative generation effect such that nutrition and health over generations influences the height of descendants to varying degrees.The age of the mother also has some influence on her child's height.The smooth 50th percentile male and female growth curves illustrated above are aggregate values from thousands of individuals sampled at ages from birth to age 20.

Note there is a discontinuity in the growth curves at age 2, which reflects the difference in recumbent length (with the child on his or her back), used in measuring infants and toddlers and standing height typically measured from age 2 onwards.A healthier child and adult develops a body that is better able to provide optimal prenatal conditions.The pregnant mother's health is important for herself but also for the fetus as gestation is itself a critical period for an embryo/fetus, though some problems affecting height during this period are resolved by catch-up growth assuming childhood conditions are good.Genetic potential and a number of hormones, minus illness, is a basic determinant for height.Other factors include the genetic response to external factors such as diet, exercise, environment, and life circumstances.

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