My child is short. What should I do?
A: Probably not. Many children who are short are healthy and do not have a medical problem.
A: If a child has one or both parents who are short, chances are good that they will be short, too.
A: Growth spurt is a short period of time when a child grows fast and gains much height and weight. It is a normal course of event and occurs at different stages of development till puberty.
A: It is a term to describe a child has slowing in skeletal growth when compared to his peers. It may be constitutional (familial) or due to medical causes.
A: These children grow quickly at a younger age because they have a growth spurt at an earlier age. As a result, they are taller than their peers. But later the other children catch up and may grow taller than them.
Parents should consult their doctors if the child
- Your child’s height is below 3% at growth chart
- Growth velocity is less than 25th percentile for age
- Height-for-age curve has deviated away across 2 percentile curves (eg from above 25th percentile to below 10%)
- Child’s projected height is more than 8.5 cm below mid-parental height.
- Is not only short but also grossly thin
- Your child has medical problems or abnormal features (Box B)
- No sign of puberty by 12 years old for girls and 14 years old for boys.
A: It means people having too little growth hormone secreted from the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. This hormone is essential for the child to grow normally. Affected children will start stop or slows in growing usually from 2-3 years onwards.
A: Maybe. After an in-depth interview with your doctor about the child’s birth history, developmental history, and nutritional intake, he will conduct a comprehensive physical examination. Only when needed, he might order tests such as bone age (x-ray), blood and hormonal tests, and brain scanning.
A: It all depends on why your child is short and whether it has medical and psychological impact on the child. Doctors will recommend growth hormone treatment only when the child has growth hormone deficiency or some special medical scenarios. Growth hormone treatment involves periodic /daily injections and heavy costs. It might carry side effects including headache, rash, nausea, raised blood sugar and blood pressure and needs close monitoring. Thorough discussion with your doctor is recommended before initiating the treatment.
- Make sure your child gets adequate and balanced diet. Pay special attention to protein, vitamin D, calcium, and iron.
- Adequate sleeping is essential. Sleeping early is the best stimulus of natural growth hormone production.
- Make sure your child has enough exercise especially in the sun. Make sure he does not have Vitamin D deficiency.
- Support your child. Help your child to feel good about himself, focus on his strength and not too much on his height.