What is short stature?
Some children may grow more slowly than their peers. Children who are shorter than average are said to have short stature. Short stature is not a disease. Often, it may just be a trait that a child got from his or her family.
Short families tend to have short children. Tall families tend to have tall children. But in some cases, a child is short because of a medical condition that affects growth. Medical conditions may either slow or stop growth in a child.
If your child is shorter than average, he or she may need to see an endocrinologist. This doctor is a specialist who is trained to diagnose and treat children with growth disorders. The endocrinologist will evaluate your child to find the cause of your child’s slow or unusual growth.
How children grow
Growing is a process that involves many factors, such as diet, health and exercise. But the two main factors are family genes and hormones.
A child’s height is
mostly controlled by family genes. Genes are passed down from
generation to generation. They control traits, such as hair colour
or eye colour. A child receives height genes from his or her
biological parents. Likewise, each parent gets height genes from his
or her parents, and so on. In general, family genes determine the
range for how tall a child may be. If the heights of family members
are within a certain range, the child’s adult height tends to be in
that range. For example, children of shorter families may be short
as adults. It is possible for a child of short parents to grow tall,
or a child of tall parents to be short.
Growth hormone is very
important for a child’s growth, among other hormones. The pituitary
gland sends growth hormone into the body, where it causes bone
growth. Growth hormone helps the cells in a child’s bones to grow
and divide. Growth in the bones, especially the spine and the leg
bones, makes a child taller.
When it comes to height
in children, there is a wide range of what is considered normal.
Many children are short for their age, but only a few may have a
medical issue that causes them to be short. If growth is slower than
normal or stops, a pediatric endocrinologist should conduct an
evaluation. The endocrinologist will check to see if the pattern of
growth is unusual and then determine a diagnosis.
This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.