New York Times 1887


(Transcription by Jørgen Malling Christensen)

GROWTH IN CHILDREN. – The rate of growth in children varies according to sex. Thus, at the age of 11 and 12 years, boys are larger and heavier than girls; but from that age on the evolution of girls is more rapid, and they soon overtake the boys and pass them, till the age of 15 years is reached, when the boys regain the ascendency, while the girls remain nearly stationary. A curious relation has been discovered between the growth of children in stature and in weight. M. Malling-Hansen, Director of the Deaf and Dumb Institution at Copenhagen, has for three years weighed and measured his pupils daily; and he has observed that their growth does not take place regularly and progressively, but by stages separated by intervals of rest. Weight also increases by periods after intervals of equilibrium. While the weight is increasing, the stature remains nearly stationary, and vice versa. The maximum of increase of stature corresponds with a minimum period of augmentation of weight. The vital forces appear not to work on both sides at once. These variations are subject to the influence of the seasons. During autumn and early winter, according to M. Malling-Hansen, the child accumulates weight, while his stature increases slowly; but during Spring, stature receives a veritable push, while weight increases but little. Some local habits have an influence on the stature. Stendhal[2] remarked that many Roman girls had deformed vertebral columns, or were a little hump-backed, and found that it was the result of a popular belief prevailing in Rome that parents could promote the growth of their children by punching them in the back! – Popular Science Monthly.


[1] JMC: While the article is from the New York Times, that daily newspaper is, in its turn, quoting from the Popular Science Monthly, Volume 31 of July 1887, when they brought an article by Guyot Daubés entitled “Variations in Human Stature”.

[2] JMC: This is most probably Henri Beyle, better known under the pseudonym Stendhal, 1783-1842, French diplomat and writer with a passionate interest in Italy. His most important works of fiction are: “Le Rouge e le Noir”; “Lucien Leuwen”; and “La Chartreuse de Parmen”.

The original article