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View Full Version : "the human skull never stops growing". Really?


Superfluous Parentheses
05-10-2010, 05:07 AM
From this post (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=12434844&postcount=72) - and I'm ignoring everything else that's wrong with it.

Quick googling turns up all kinds of ridiculous assertions (personally, I think that yahoo answers and the like are doing more damage than good).

So, given that my hat size hasn't changed in years (but then, I've had a large head all my life) I'm inclined to doubt that the human skull keeps growing forever. Can anyone give me a reliable cite?

Mangetout
05-10-2010, 05:09 AM
Depends what they mean by 'growing'. I think it's true that the cranial sutures continue to knit and close well into adult life, but this doesn't make your head bigger.

Qadgop the Mercotan
05-10-2010, 08:51 AM
It generally stops growing by the end of adolescence.

Failure to do so results in debility.

cwthree
05-10-2010, 03:16 PM
Failure to do so results in debility.
Why? I understand why premature closure of the sutures causes problems, but why does delayed closure (disallowing, for example, defect that leaves the fontanelle vulnerable for an extended period) cause problems?

Qadgop the Mercotan
05-10-2010, 03:29 PM
Failure to stop growing in people whose growth plates are not yet closed results in gigantism, and if the growth plates are closed, it causes acromegaly.

Both disorders cause crippling effects due to osteoarthritis, neuropathies, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and a host of other endocrine problems.

And since the reason for continued/renewed growth is excess Human Growth Hormone due quite often to a pituitary adenoma, one has the debilitating effects of an expanding mass inside the head.

Irishman
05-10-2010, 03:46 PM
cwthree, what he actually said was

Failure to [stop growing by the end of adolescence] results in debility.

In other words, not delayed closure, but rather continuing to grow beyond closure. That means bone gets pushed into the brain cavity.

However, he did answer your question.

cwthree
05-10-2010, 04:41 PM
Thanks, Qadgop and Irishman. It all makes sense now.