Are you one of those moms who constantly have this worry in your mind about your child’s growth? Your child’s diet is filled with protein shakes, dry fruit laddoos, parathas topped with dollops of ghee under the pretext of “Ma ka Pyar” and still something doesn’t seem right about his/her growth.
Growth spurts are times when gross differences are noticeable in the child’s physical development. That’s when growth occurs exponentially. And the spurts are seen in newborn to toddler stage. After that, the next growth spurt occurs in puberty.
Growth isn’t always about the scale where the weight increases every month and cms are added to the height too.
So keep doing whatever you are, for your child’s growth and development even though you can’t see it translated in the form of visible changes in the child’s health. Absence of disease is also a sign of health.
Causes of short stature
- Genetics. The parents and the grandparent’s height is what plays an important role in the height of the child. This is called familial short stature.
- Genetic conditions. many genetic conditions can lead to short stature, including Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome and Noonan syndrome.
- Chronic diseases. Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, located in the middle of the brain. Therefore, chronic medical problems that affect the pituitary gland may also affect growth.
- Growth hormone deficiency. Some children simply don’t produce enough growth hormone, including those born with a poorly developed pituitary gland.
- Malnutrition. It could be because of a low socio-economic status that leads to scarcity of food. Or the child might be suffering from an eating disorder, a nutritional deficiency or a period of illness that leads to a lack of appetite in the child. All of these can cause a delay in growth if not identified well in time.
- Psychosocial stress. A nurturing home environment filled with happiness and cheer si most important. Constant parental fights, emotional abuse can lead to stunting and this pattern of growth is seen in homes stricken with famine, ear, or low socioeconomic background.
Puberty plays an essential role in giving the final boost to your child’s height via hormones. But it is really important for puberty to hit on time. Or else growth starts early but ceases prematurely leaving your child with short stature. Keeping an eye on signs of puberty is one important way of getting this tackled. It is easy for your paediatrician to predict how tall your child can get just using a few measurements and an x-ray. this helps determine his final predicted adult height that you can work upon.
If at all your child’s growth velocity is slow either because he’d been sick or wasn’t eating well, and his growth hormone levels are normal still he can be a candidate for Growth hormone to help boost his height and reach his full genetic potential.
Idiopathic short stature, that is even with normal levels of growth hormone your child can be short due to a slow growth velocity. This is an indication for Growth hormone therapy (where the child grows at a normal velocity but still fails to reach its target height in final height predictions). Note that the final/target height predictions are mere estimates.
Growth Hormone should not be looked at as a tool for enhancing height for a few extra centimetres. It is only to be used by children who are short or will have short final heights. It is safe but only under specialized medical supervision
If your worried about your child’s growth then visit a “Growth Clinic”. Here your child will be assessed for proper growth and development using a few measurements and xrays like that of the wrist. Then after a few calculations, your child’s predicted height can be determined. Now this number will also take into consideration, your height.
If at all, it is found that your child’s height is developing slow or he might end up with a short stature then growth hormone therapy might be an option your paediatrician would consider for you.
Here’s what happens when you go to a growth clinic.
- Detailed history including birth history
- Anthropometry (measurements like height, weight, MAC,)
- Mid parental height
- Plotting all of this on Growth charts
- Analysis of the growth parameters w.r.t centiles
- A thorough head to toe examination followed by systemic examination Investigations with a few tests
- Categorization of short stature
- Discussion on Treatment options based on the need and cause
- Regular follow up
Next time you visit your pediatrician, do ensure you track your child’s growth and make sure it is either within the same centiles or crossing lines above. Maintaining a growth curve on a growth chart is of utmost importance to track your child growth and nutritional status. Here is a growth tracking app available on Playstore to help you keep an eye on your child’s growth pattern.
You can connect with Dr. Alok Sardesai on his social media
If you wish to get a consultation with dr. Alok then he runs Clinics which deal with hormonal problems in children and adolescents in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.
- T2T Hormone Clinics India Private Limited, Andheri
- Apollo Hospital Navi Mumbai
- Sparsh Children’s Hospital, Parel
- Colours Children’s Hospital, Navi Mumbai
- Mala Children’s Hospital, Thane
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