A parent's frequent question in my Growth clinic is,"Doctor, is my child growing up all right?"
While this question has numerous answers depending on the child in question, there are certain basic facts every parent must know about growth.
Let's discuss the first part of the growth series
Growth is the miracle of childhood.
How a little bundle of joy at birth transitions and transforms into an adult human is truly a remarkable feat of nature.
Growth is universal
Every child grows. And hence we tend to take it for granted, until something goes wrong and the child stops growing well.
But do you really need to wait before your child comes up with a serious growth problem?
The answer is NO...
Can you pick up a problem before it becomes severe?
The answer is YES..
Can you monitor the child's growth yourself?
The answer is YES.
What is growth?
Growth means increase in height and weight of the child
Why do you need to look at your child's growth carefully?
To put it in simple words, growth is the sum total of all the body processes. If growth is alright, it means most of the body processes are going well so you can stop worrying about your kiddo’s health
As a law of nature, a well growing child is a healthy child
What does good growth tell us?
1. Nutrition intake is good
2. All hormones are fine
3. Metabolism is co-ordinated
4 Illnesses arent ‘consuming away’ the child.
5. Child is in psychosocial well being (happy kids grow better)
A child who is not growing well has a deficiency or a disorder. Height is nature’s early warning sign, a VISUAL ALARM for parents and physicians not increasing in height could indicate certain invisible problems are going on inside the child’s body.
So how can you know that your child is growing normally?
Your child is growing normally if:
- He/she is outgrowing clothes every year
- The shoe size increasing every year
- He/she is not among the 3 shortest children in class
- He/she is growing atleast 5 cm per year (after 5 years of age)
- He/she is not much leaner or chubbier than classmates
If the answer to any of these questions is NO, this child needs to be looked at carefully. The growth parameters need to be measured and marked and followed up regularly.
I must stress here that every child must have his own growth chart. It's a paper which has markings of ideal height and weight at all ages. Each visit to a paediatrician must have a recording of height and weight done on the growth chart.