For any child, height is an important parameter that your doctor will measure every time you bring your child to follow-up. The height of the child is important and will be measured from newborn through adolescence. There is a formula that can be used to calculate the estimated height for each child.
How to Diagnose Short Stature in Children?
There are two different formulas that can be used to measure the estimated height of a child based on his/her parent’s height:
- Tanner method:
- Girls: [(Father’s height in cm + Mother’s height in cm)/2] -6.5
- Boys: [(Father’s height in cm + Mother’s height in cm)/2] + 6.5
- Alternative way:
- Girls: father’s height in cm – 13
- Boys: father’s height in cm + 13
Usually, a child will reach within 10cm of their mid-parental height expectation. Those who are height deficient will generally notice it as puberty begins – about 10 years old for girls and 11 years old for boys. The opportunity to address it will, however, end once the child finishes puberty, generally around the age of 16. Thus, if parents are concerned about their kid’s height, then around the age of 8 to 10 is a good time to get an evaluation.
What are some of the causes of short stature?
The causes of short stature vary from child to child. Some children have short stature because of medical reasons, some could be due to genetic causes, whereas some could be just due to a physiological delay, meaning they are slower to get started and eventually will reach their expected mid-parental height.
The common reasons are:
- Genetics: When a child’s parents are short, then the child will be short as well, this is known as familial short stature.
- Genetic Conditions: Few genetic syndromes can lead to short stature, for example, Turner syndrome, Noonan syndrome and so on.
- Chronic diseases: Some chronic diseases will affect child growth rate for example, inflammatory bowel disease, hypothyroidism, heart disease, kidney disease, immunological disease and some endocrine diseases.
- Growth Hormone deficiency: Some children don’t produce enough growth hormone due to poor development of the pituitary gland.
- Psychosocial stress
What is the treatment option available for short stature?
Treatment for short stature in children depends on the cause for it to begin with. For example, if the child has short stature due to malnutrition, then by correcting the malnutrition the child should go on to a normal growth rate. If a child has short stature due to constitutional delay whilst undergoing puberty, then a low dose of testosterone can be used to induce puberty earlier.
Growth hormone could be used to treat short stature due to growth hormone deficiency syndrome, idiopathic short stature, Turner syndrome, Noonan syndrome, chronic renal disease or premature children that cannot catch up. Children who are treated for short stature with growth hormone require daily injections and regular doctor monitoring with close follow-up. Children who are started on growth hormone treatment may require daily injections for at least 6 months to a year. Then, the doctor will determine whether growth hormone treatment is effective or discontinue the treatment. The best age to start treatment will be around 8 to 10 years old. It won’t be effective if the patient has already passed 16 years old or if the pubertal process is complete.
Generally, growth hormone treatment is effective if the cause of short stature is due to growth hormone deficiency. If however, the cause of short stature is due to idiopathic short stature, usually the height improvement won’t be much.
In conclusion, if you are concerned about your children’s height, it is best to seek medical help around the age of 8-10 years old.