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J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2012;25(3-4):267-71.

Final height in elite male artistic gymnasts.

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Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Patras Medical School, Patras, Greece.



Elite male artistic gymnasts (AG) are exposed to high levels of physical and psychological stress during adolescence and experience a significant late maturation in both linear growth and pubertal development. The aim of the present study was to determine the impact of intensive physical training on the adult final height in elite male AG.


This study is unique in character, as all variables were measured on the field of competition. The study was prospective and longitudinal; however, the current analysis of data is cross-sectional. Data from 86 elite male AG were obtained during the gymnastics competitions of European and World Championships. Clinical evaluation included height and weight measurements, as well as assessment of pubic hair and genital development according to Tanner's stages of pubertal development. The laboratory investigation included determination of skeletal maturation. All athletes completed a questionnaire that included questions on personal (onset and intensity of training, number of competitions per year) and family data (paternal and maternal heights).


Male AG were below the 50th percentile for both final height and weight. Elite male AG had final height standard deviation score (SDS) lower than their genetic predisposition. Final height SDS was correlated positively with target height SDS (r = 0.430, p < 0.001) and weight SDS (r = 0.477, p < 0.001) and negatively to the intensity of training (r = -0.252, p = 0.022). The main factors influencing final height, by multiple regression analysis were weight SDS (p < 0.001) and target height SDS (p = 0.003).


In elite maleAG, final height falls short of genetic predisposition, still well within normal limits. Considering medical and psychological risks in general, and based on the results of this research project, the International Federation of Gymnastics has increased the age limit for participants in international gymnastics competitions by 1 year.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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