Growth disorders in children

What is short stature?

When the child is shorter than what he/she expects to be compared to other children of the same age and sex, it is called short stature. The child’s height is closely related to the parent’s height. This needs to be accounted when children are labeled to have short stature.

How do you decide if a child is short?

We have growth charts that track the height of normal children. These are made by pooling the heights of thousands of children of both sexes and age groups in a community. Comparing the height of the child with that of normal children will give an idea whether a given child is short. The parent’s height is also factored in.

What is growth/ height velocity?

The amount of height gained in one year is called height velocity. Despite a short height, having a normal height velocity suggests that the child is likely to be normal.

What are the common causes of short stature?

The common causes of short stature is as follows

  1. Genetic/familial short stature
  2. Nutritional short stature
  3. Constitutional delay
  4. Growth hormone deficiency
  5. Chronic medical diseases involving heart, lung, liver, kidneys or intestine
  6. Genetic syndromes: Turner syndrome (in girls)
  7. Thyroid diseases
  8. Small babies (by birth) who have failed to catch up.
  9. When should I show my child to the doctor for height problems?

It is not very easy for a parent to find out short stature. Some clues may help you

  • If you have a gut feeling that your child is not growing well
  • If you child is among the shortest 5 in the class ( class of 50)
  • If you find that he is not outgrowing his dress/ shoes in 1 year
  • If he looks funny and people comment that his legs and hands are shorter
  • If he looks childish for his age
  • His teeth don’t appear on time

How can I track my child’s growth?

If you have shown your child to an endocrinologist and he feels that the child is normal, you can still track his growth with a growth chart. It is always advisable that you get an accurate height recording from a health care professional.

Is there any treatment available for short stature?

Yes. Short stature can be due to different reasons and the cause needs to be diagnosed. Patients with growth hormone deficiency, Turner syndrome, idiopathic short stature, renal failure and small for gestational babies who do not have catch up growth are recommended growth hormone therapy.

I have been told that my son who is short will grow normally when he is older, is it true?

No and Yes. If your endocrinologist has examined your child, done the basic investigations and taken a hand X ray for bone age and recorded his growth over at least 6 months, and feels that they are all normal, it is likely that your son has constitutional delay in growth. If not, it is very difficult to predict that your son will grow to his best height potential.

Get an endocrinologist to see your child if you think he/she is short. The earlier you get treatment, the better.