Parents and small kids, particularly teenagers, constantly worry when they realize that their peers are much taller than they are. Although many health issues may cause your child to be short, most small kids are completely normal.
Inherited short stature is something small kids can blame their parents for. Most children are small because they have parents who are short. Thus, genetics has a huge role to play and determines how tall your child will grow.
Parent often wonder whether a doctor can tell how tall, small kids will grow. Although your child’s doctor doesn’t have a crystal ball stowed under his desk, he can use your height to tell your child’s genetic potential.
It’s important to figure out your child’s growth potential because a child who is below his highest possible growth may have underlying medical issues.
A child grows rapidly during his first four years at a rate of 4 inches each year. Once he is past age 4, the rate of growth begins to decrease steadily to 2.5 inches each year, until he reaches puberty.
Then, once a child reaches ultimate growth spurt, girls will grow at a rate of 3.5 inches each year while boys will experience up to 4 inches a year. After their growth spurts, teens begin to grow at a slower rate until they hit adulthood, four to five years later.
Girls and boys often continue growing until they reach age 16, but that depends on when puberty started. Girls reach puberty at 13 while boys hit puberty at around 14 years. However, if a girl begins puberty at the age of 12, she might continue to grow until she is age 17.
Bear in mind that a girl will hit puberty 2 years after your male child. So, during adolescence, girls tend to be a little taller than their male peers. Thus, other than genetics, the difference in timing of puberty may explain the disparity in your children’s height during their teen years.
Evaluating a Short Child
When assessing small kids, the most important thing is their growth rate. A child who is growing at a normal rate should maintain the same pattern. That means, even if your child falls in the 3rd percentile, and continues to maintain the same growth, he is showing normal growth.
If a child is crossing into percentile boundaries, then you should be concerned because there may be underlying issues causing your child to be small. However, bear in mind that your child may cross percentiles during his early years.
Other indicators that may point to growth issue include chronic health problems or chronic events like vomiting, fever, diarrhea, weight loss, delayed puberty and headache.
Small kids may also have a disproportionately short stature, which is often a sign of chromosomal chaos, like dwarfism. A child who is short and overweight may be suffering from hormonal or endocrine problems.
Causes of short stature
A common cause of short stature seen in small kids is familial height, meaning a child inherits height from his parents. Such kids often grow at a steady rate, although they are small and they follow a chart that is below but parallel to a normal chart.
Another possible cause of short stature is a constitutional delay. Children showing this kind of growth are often short, and their growth falls below the 3rd percentile for age. Such kids end up with delayed bone growth, and they experience development at a rate of 2.5 inches each year.
A parent will also notice a child has a delay in achieving puberty. Children with constitutional growth continue to develop even after others of the same age have completed their growth pattern.
There are many reasons why kids show short stature. Some of these reasons are linked to serious health conditions. Kids with these issues appear short and have trouble growing normally, don’t follow a standard curve, and they often cross percentile boundaries.
Unfortunately, parents don’t always know how to help kids grow taller. In addition, most parents worry that their small kids have a deficiency of growth hormone. For a child to grow properly, he needs to have enough growth hormone in his blood.
While a short child may have delayed bone development, an insufficient growth hormone will cause the child to grow slowly, and he will a pattern that deviates from normal. This condition can be congenital or acquired because of injury or brain tumour. Treatment often involves replacement therapy.
Ensure you keep good data on your kid’s weight and height as that will make it easy to assess a kid with short stature. Also, be sure that your child goes for his regular wellness visit with the doctor and ask for height measurements. Although the doctor will perform an initial assessment of your child, he may also want to undertake additional tests, where necessary, in order to arrive at the underlying problem.