Growth is the most important aspect of childhood, one that distinguishes children from adults. Growth is affected by a number of diseases and growth failure is often the first sign of a serious disease. Unfortunately, children with growth failure present very late when no help is possible.
Growth is the best marker of health and growth failure may be caused by a serious disease. Moreover, children with short stature have lower self-esteem. When to worry? Plot the height of your child in the growth chart and if it is below the lower limit visit a doctor. Alternatively, if your child's height is less than the formula (Height = Age in years x 6 + 77 cm) it may be a cause for concern. Growth stops at the age of 14 years in girls and 16 years in boys. Hence the child should be reviewed latest by 10 years for girls and 12 years for boys.
What causes growth failure?
Growth failure can be due to a number of causes including poor nutrition, lack of physical activities and low genetic potential with parents being short. Short stature can also be caused by a number of diseases like thyroid problems, growth hormone deficiency and celiac disease (wheat allergy).
How can I improve my child's growth?
Please encourage your child to play for at least 1 hour a day. It is important to restrict screen time including television, computer, tablets and mobiles to less than an hour. Increased protein and calcium intake with more milk, pulses and vegetables also help in improving growth. Growth hormone is produced during sleep. Sleeping for at least eight hours a day is therefore essential for a child to achieve good growth.
What can be done if my child is very short?
Please consult a doctor to identify the cause of short stature. Most conditions are readily treatable. Children with growth hormone deficiency respond dramatically to growth hormone. Growth hormone is also being used now in children with Turner syndrome, familial short stature, small size at birth and kidney disease.
Time is important- act now if your child is short.