MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- A child’s growth is one of the most important aspects of youth development that is regularly tracked. It's a reflection of overall health and nutritional status, and poor growth can be an indicator of an underlying medical problem.
"A child whose height percentiles have decreased over time or whose height percentiles are significantly lower than what would be expected for his or her genetic potential can be concerning and may warrant further evaluation," said Dr. Jaime Tsay, a Pediatric Endocrinologist at CareMount Medical.
The growth hormone is created by the pituitary gland in the brain and acts on bones to promote growth during a child’s growing years. "While nutrition and growth hormone play an essential role in growth during early childhood, growth in the later years is also strongly influenced by the sex hormones of puberty," said Dr. Tsay. For parents of children with growth issues, knowing an issue's cause can help find a solution.
Causes of short stature can include:
- Delayed puberty
- Bone disorders
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Chronic illness
- Growth hormone deficiency
- Genetic syndromes
- Having a low birth weight or birth length
An evaluation for a child with poor growth can include blood tests to investigate whether there is any underlying problem or hormone deficiency. In addition, a bone age study, or x-ray of the hand and wrist, can be used to assess how mature a child’s bones are and how much more time there is left for growth. It can also be used to estimate how tall a child will be when his or her growth is completed.
Depending on a child's underlying growth problem, treatment can vary. "For children with growth hormone deficiency, low birth weight or length, those growing at less than the first percentile in height, growth hormones are an option," said Dr. Tsay. Medications that stop the progression of puberty in order to prolong the time for growth can also be given to children who enter into puberty early.
Dr. Tsay and CareMount Medical use computerized growth charts in every child’s electronic medical record to track height. Therefore, doctors can show parents interactive charts when examining a child.
To learn more about growth-related services offered at CareMount Medical, click here.