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Trang and her husband have average height compared with other people of the same generation. Trang is 1.55 meters tall, while her husband is 1.65 meters.

Trang believes that with their genes, their children cannot be tall, so she always tries to give her children nutritious food. The children, a boy and a girl, take supplements every day, including calcium, spirulina, vitamin 3B and dairy products, which costs a month of salary for each campaign. However, her daughter, who will be a 10th grader after summer, is 1.57 meters tall. 

“In our modern times, women should be at least 1.7 meters, and men 1.8 meters,” she said.

Her son Minh is 10 years old, 1.37 meters tall, and weighs 35 kilograms. Every time Trang and her family members return to their hometown to attend family’s events, she   said she is criticized that she is not good at raising children, because Minh is shorter than the other boys in the same village.

So she decided that the boy needed medical intervention to improve his height, especially after she heard that boys can be 30 centimeters higher after two years of receiving a growth hormone.

Trang and her son went to the Central Children’s Hospital, where they met Dr Bui Phuong Thao, deputy director of the Center for Endocrinology, Metabolism, Genetics and Molecular Therapy, and asked for solutions to help the boy improve his height.

The average height of the children of the same age as Minh is 137.8 centimeters, according to the World Health Organization’s standards. If a boy is 125 centimeters, he will be considered short. But Minh is 137 centimeters.

“In my class, many other classmates stand before me when we line up to salute the flag,” Minh told the doctor.

Other tests and medical examinations showed that Minh was in normal health condition and did not need medical intervention. 

Thao told VietNamNet that the hospital in recent years had received many requests from parents on injecting children with growth hormone (GH).

The height of their children is a concern of families if both parents, or the mother or father, are not tall. Parents fear their children will not be able to find jobs in the future, or not have positions in society, or not be able to find life partners. Some parents fear their small children may be bullied by other children at school.

According to the Hanoi Health Department, the average height of 17-year-old males in cities was 168.8 centimeters and the figure was 157.4 centimeters for females, according to a survey in 2021. The figures were 2.2 centimeters and 0.2 centimeters higher, respectively, than five years before.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the average height of Vietnamese youth in the last 10 years has increased significantly. The average height of a Vietnamese girl rose by 2.6 centimeters in 2010-2020, and is now at 156.2 centimeters. As for men, the figures were 3.7 centimeters and 168.1 centimeters.

With the figures, Vietnam ranks fourth in the region in terms of male and female average height, following Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Dr Truong Hong Son, Director of the Vietnam Institute of Applied Medicine, said the increase in the height of Vietnamese youth in 1990-2020 was the same as Japan’s golden period in height increase in 1955-1995.

The height of Vietnamese born from 2000 onwards is better than in the previous period, with the height "nearly twice as fast as the previous decade,” he said, adding that if Vietnam can maintain the current growth rate, the average height of Vietnamese women may reach 1.59 meters by 2030 and Vietnamese men 1.72 meters.

According to the Center for Examination and Counselling in Nutrition under the National Institute of Nutrition and the Center for Endocrinology, Metabolism, Genetics and Molecular Therapy, the number of patients coming for examination began increasing in late May and early June, when students begin their summer holiday, and has even increased by 40 percent on some days.

It is estimated that eight out of 10 parents complain to doctors that their children have taken many medicines and vitamins, but their height has not improved. Most of them have asked doctors to prescribe growth hormone injections for their children.

However, Thao decided that Trang’s son did not need such an injection. The mother said she would take the son abroad to get an injection there.

Vo Thu