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Pediatric Short Stature

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Summary

Short stature refers to children or teens who are significantly below the average height for a person who is the same age and sex. A growth chart shows your child’s current height and how fast he is growing. This can be compared to other children’s growth rates.

A statistical measurement known as a standard deviation (SD) is used to make the comparison. If a child’s height is more than 2 SDs below others of their age and gender, that child has short stature. While you may be worried if your child is smaller than most, this is not always an indication of a health problem.

Causes

Usually there is no medical cause. Some children are small for their age but are growing at a normal rate. Some children just grow at different rates than others. These children continue to grow after others have stopped and they will reach an adult height that is similar to that of their parents.

Genetics also play an important role. If one or both of parents is short, then the chances are good that the child also will be. Children should reach close to the adult height of the parents.

However, if you have concerns about your child’s development you should consider making an appointment with your child’s doctor. Short stature can also be a symptom of medical conditions such as bone or skeletal disorders, a chronic disease, growth hormone deficiencies, infections that developed prior to birth, malnutrition or poor growth while in the womb. It is important that these possibilities be eliminated. 

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