Body Height Trajectories in Pediatric Competitive Athletes from 46 Different Sport Types

Ran Efrati, Shiran Leib, Amir Rimon, Miri Gelbart, Yoni Yarom, Tomer Ziv-Baran, Gal Dubnov-Raz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is some concern that competitive sports in children and adolescents might hinder their growth. This study’s purpose was to examine height changes in pediatric competitive athletes from 46 different sports. Clinical data from athletes aged <18 years that underwent annual preparticipation examinations at a single sports medicine center were extracted from computerized medical records. Height was transformed into standard deviation scores (SDS). Generalized estimating equations were used to analyze height SDS changes over time in the total cohort and in subgroups of age, sex and several sport types. Data on 2276 athletes were available (71.3% males, age: 12.3 ± 2.6 years), of which 688 had repeated measurements. The median duration between examinations was 1.9 years (interquartile range: 1.0–2.9, maximum: 9.3 years). Height SDS neither significantly changed throughout follow up in the total cohort (−0.01 per year, 95%CI = −0.48–0.03, p = 0.62) nor in subgroups of age and sex. However, height SDS was significantly reduced by −0.12 to −0.23 per year in athletes engaged in endurance sports (i.e., swimming, cycling and triathlon) but not in gymnastics, tennis, basketball or football. We conclude that competitive sports in youth are generally not associated with significant changes in body height relative to age. However, this might occur in endurance sports, possibly due to low energy availability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5033
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • adolescents
  • children
  • growth
  • sport
  • stature


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