What are Pediatric Growth Disorders?
If your child is shorter than other children of the same age and gender or is growing too fast, it could be due to growth disorders. Your regular doctor can tell you if your child is short or tall for his/her age by plotting the height and weight on the growth chart.
What Are The Causes Of Genetic Growth Disorders?
Not all children who are growing slower or faster have a medical problem. Height depends on the parents’ heights: tall parents will have tall kids and shorter parents will have shorter children. This is called familial short stature or familial tall stature. Some children may just be growing slower and may catch up later called constitutional growth delay. Poor nutrition and over-nutrition can lead to short stature and tall stature, respectively. Chronic systemic illnesses can be a cause of poor growth. Genetic syndromes may be associated with either short or tall stature. Lastly, many endocrine conditions like growth hormone deficiency or excess, hypothyroidism/hyperthyroidism, Congenital Adrenal hyperplasia, early and late puberty etc can affect growth.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Growth Disorder?
Variations or delays in normal growth patterns including when a child grows less than two inches a year after his or her third birthday.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Growth Disorders?
Factors that may contribute to pediatric growth disorder include:
- Constitutional growth delay with delayed adolescence or delayed maturation
- Illnesses that affect the whole body (also called systemic diseases)
- Endocrine (hormone) diseases. Adequate production of the thyroid hormone is necessary for normal bone growth
- Congenital (present at birth) problems in the tissues where growth occurs.
How Is Pediatric Growth Disorder Diagnosed?
Your Pediatrician will record the height and weight at each visit and will let you know if he/she feels that your child is not growing as expected for children of the same age and gender.
Depending on the heights of the other family members and the past medical history, the doctor will decide if you need to see an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist will check your child’s blood for the various hormones that are important to regulate growth and will also request an X-ray of the left hand to look at the bone age. The Bone age helps to know how tall your child will grow.
What Are The Possible Treatments?
Depending on the underlying cause, the child treated with the hormone the child is deficient. In some cases, where the child is not growth hormone deficient but is expected to be very short based on the bone age, growth hormone treatment may be given to boost the growth.
Are There Preventative Steps Or Measures To Avoid Growth Disorders?
You should be meeting with your pediatrician regularly and if there are any signs of growth disorders you should meet with your pediatric endocrinologist to get your child evaluated.
What Are The Risks If Pediatric Growth Conditions Are Left Untreated?
Overlooking a growth disorder could mean that a hormone deficiency or excess, hypothyroidism/hyperthyroidism, or condition like congenital Adrenal hyperplasia goes undiagnosed
You can help your child by making sure he/she eats a healthy diet. Help your child feel good about him/herself and not focus too much on the height.