The normal height of children is detailed in the chapter
on NORMAL GROWTH AND
CAUSES: If the height of a child is less than expected, the following are the more likely causes:
- Small size of parents
- Small size at birth
- Chronic infections
- Bronchial asthma and congenital heart disease (CHD).
Small Size Of Parents
A child may take after his mother or father who is
short. The child may have a sudden increase in height as he enters his teens.
Small Size At Birth
Children with low birth weight and length are likely to
remain small, even if they are born at the expected time (small
for date babies).
Undiagnosed and untreated chronic infections like a
urinary infection can be responsible for poor gain in weight and height.
Bronchial Asthma And Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
Severe bronchial asthma as well as CHD can cause
shortness of stature.
Less Common Causes
Hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism and growth
hormone deficiency, though uncommon, must be diagnosed and treated promptly. Certain chromosomal disorders and
hereditary disorders affecting the skeleton can also
result in stunted growth.
TREATMENT: Besides treatment of an obvious cause for shortness, there are no specific
measures to increase
Swimming and exercise are desirable, but one should not expect that the child’s height will
increase by such
methods. The same is true for a healthy diet. Of course, if a
child has been ill fed from an early age, his height and weight
will have been affected. But pushing the child to eat more does not help.
Vitamins and iron, unless indicated for specific
reasons, are not helpful in increasing height.
Similarly, drugs to stimulate appetite like
cyproheptadine and anabolic steroids are of no use and can, in fact, be harmful. A growth hormone is sometimes given, if
indicated, under the close supervision of a
paediatrician or an endocrinologist.
11 February, 2013