2.5. Factors Influencing Human Growth and Development

2.5. Factors Influencing Human Growth and Development

Human growth and development is influenced by a several factors, many of which are beyond our control. While heredity and genes certainly play a large role in terms of determining size and health, there are also environmental factors at play. An understanding of these environmental factors can help individuals and communities to play a part in ensuring that human growth and development are not adversely affected.


People who are malnourished do not receive adequate nutrients essential for good health and proper development. According to Keepkidshealthy.org, people who go hungry or who do not eat properly are more likely to be underweight and much shorter than average. In a 2006 article authored by the Agriculture and Rural Development Department titled "Agriculture and Rural Development: Hunger and Malnutrition," under-nutrition is cited as a large-scale problem in low-income countries. It is characterized by low height for age, known as stunting, low weight for height, known as wasting, and low weight for age, known as underweight.


According to the U.K.-based website Warrington Borough Council, there is a correlation between housing conditions and ill health that can negatively impact human growth and development. Houses that are cold and damp, that lack proper air circulation, or that have high levels of mold and dust mites can exacerbate or cause various illnesses. These kind of environments are rich in airborne pollutants that trigger allergic symptoms and cause maladies such as conjunctivitis, eczema, asthma and bronchitis with repeated exposure.

Perhaps of even greater concern is the potential for lead exposure from deteriorated lead-based paint in older housing. Lead is most harmful to children because it is easily absorbed into their growing bodies and interferes with the developing brain and other organs and systems. According to Samiya Bashir's May 2002 article "Home is Where the Harm is: Inadequate Housing as a Public Health Crisis," which appeared in the "American Journal of Public Health," children between the ages of 18 and 36 months who live in poor and inner-city communities are at greatest risk of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can result in neurological damage, reduced IQ, hyperactivity, increased aggression, learning disabilities and behavioral problem, Bashir writes.


Studies have found that some air pollutants have detrimental effects on human growth, according to the 2006 article titled "Effects of Pollution on Human Growth and Development: An Introduction," published in the "Journal of Physiological Anthropology." The article points to lower birth weights as a result of particulate air pollutants. In a European Commission study, it was calculated that air pollution also reduces life expectancy by an average of almost 9 months across the European Union. Emitted by traffic, industry and domestic heating sources, these pollutants are released in the form of tiny particles that can penetrate deeply into both the bloodstream and respiratory tissue.


When children are very young, and spend most of their time with their parents and/or other family members family is usually the major human influence in their life. This is also true about most children when they get older and grow into adulthood. Families provide a nurturing environment in which security, protection, satisfaction, and love are given. Physical needs for food and clothing are met. In this environment family members grow to maturity. In a proper family environment a child has positive surroundings, including positive people. when a child is cared for and loved he/she gets ample nutrition, clothing, shelter, rest, interaction/attention, etc. these things help the child grow physically and mentally. the child is surrounded by positivity, therefore the chances of the child maturing into a positive individual are very high. however if a child is raised in an improper family environment, most likely, the opposite will result. he/she will be deprived of the opportunity to fully develop, and has a higher risk of harboring negativity as they age.

Size of family exerts an indirect influence on the rate of growth. In a large family with limited income the children do not get proper nutrition. As a result the growth is affected. The number of children in the family exerts  an effect on the children’s rate of growth. Children in large families have been shown to be usually smaller and lighter than children in small families. Possibly this is because in large families children tend to get less individual care and attention.


Socioeconomic influence on human growth is also a well-known factor. Children from different socioeconomic levels differ in average body size at all ages that have been investigated. The upper groups being always more advanced along the course to maturity.  The cause of this socio - economic differential are probably multiple. Nutrition is almost certainly one, and with it all the habits of regular meals, sleep, exercise and general organization that distinguish, from the point of view, a good home from a bad one. Growth

differences are more closely related to the home conditions than to the strictly economic status of the families and home conditions reflect the intelligence and personality of the parents.


The physical growth of human beings is definitely affected by cultural factors. Culture  differs from ethnic group to ethnic group. The body growth differences correlate with varied cultural groups. The physical growth of the body follows some adaptations in different geographical areas of distribution of the groups.

Climate & Environmental

There is a well-marked seasonal effect on velocity of growth visible in most human growth data. Growth in height is on average fastest in spring and growth in weight fastest in autumn. This is true at all ages, including adolescence. The mechanism of the seasonal effect is not known; probably variations in hormone secretion are involved.

Climate seems to have a very minor effect on overall rate of growth in man. It has been suggested that each major race of mankind varies in stature according to the climates in which they live.

Seasonal variation in growth has also be en observed in many studies. Longitudinal studies have shown that only about 30% of the children have cycles of increase and decrease in growth velocity which are strictly seasonal. The remaining children show accelerations and decelerations of growth which cannot be clearly related with seasons.

Source: Concept of Human Physical Growth and Development by Dr. Kaushik Bose http://nsdl.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/243/1/PDF%2B5.5CHAPTER%2B...