Objectives: To determine the timing, magnitude and duration of the pubertal spurt for short normal and average height girls, to compare these with Tanner’s standard and to investigate predictors of pubertal growth. Methods: The growth of 46 short normal and 55 control girls, identified at school entry, was monitored throughout puberty. Height and weight were measured at 6-month intervals from which body mass index (BMI) was derived. Annual velocities were calculated and used to estimate the age and magnitude of peak height velocity (PHV). Age of menarche was recorded to the nearest month. Parents provided information on the child’s medical and social history. Results: The mean age at PHV, the magnitude of PHV and age at menarche were similar for both groups and close to Tanner’s 50th centile values. Pre-pubertal BMI predicted age at menarche for short and control girls, accounting for 17% of the variance. There was a tendency for early maturing girls of average stature to have greater PHV. However, this relationship was not observed in short girls, nor did any other variable, genetic or environmental, predict the timing or magnitude of their pubertal spurt. Conclusions: Delayed puberty in short normal girls is unlikely and their growth during puberty is comparable to girls of average height. The pubertal variables measured remain close to Tanner’s original standards for both groups, suggesting the lack of a secular trend towards earlier puberty in girls. The onset of menstruation is influenced by pre-pubertal BMI. However, the clinician should be aware that short normal girls have normal pubertal growth and that no genetic or environmental variable can predict the timing or magnitude of their growth spurt.

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