PARIS: Is Height An Indicator Of A Child’s Development? Here’s What Expert Has To Say

PARIS: Is Height An Indicator Of A Child’s Development? Here’s What Expert Has To Say

PARIS: Through children’s growing years,
their physical, mental and overall development are the top priorities for
parents. As most parents would tell you, every child is unique. Naturally,
children grow, develop and mature at different rates. Measuring height is one
way to determine if the physical development is on track for this child.

factors determine height

in physical height depends on a host of factors, which changes as the child
grows. For example, when a child is born, length and weight are largely
determined by the intrauterine environment. After that, several factors
including nutrition, genetics and the height of the parents play an important
role in influencing the height of the child. It is around the age of 2 years
that hormones start to play an important role. At this age, it is the growth
hormone that matters the most. Once the child reaches puberty, the sex hormones
play a crucial role in achieving the final adult height.

How can
you tell if a child’s height is right for his age?

Kids grow
differently, you may have observed that the paediatrician uses a growth chart
to measure how well your child is growing. Growth charts are developed by
taking into account the heights of thousands of children. The various lines on
the chart indicate growth path ‘percentiles’. For example, if a child’s height
at different times is being plotted along the 25th percentile, it means that
25% of children of the same sex and age would be shorter than the child. A
child is said to be of short stature if the height track is lower than the 3rd

parents be worried if their child is short?

In most
cases, parents need not worry. In some cases, if the parents are short, their
child could be short (familial short stature). In other cases, there may be
what is known as a ‘constitutional delay in growth and puberty’. Such children
may be short for most of their early childhood, they hit puberty late and catch
up in their growth. They are called the Late Bloomers. For the most part,
children who are short are healthy, which is the most critical factor. However
in ‘rare’ cases short stature could be because of deficiency in growth hormone.

growth hormone deficiency

hormone is a hormone secreted from the pituitary gland in the brain. It is
responsible for the growth of a child along with the thyroid hormones and
sexual hormones. A child with growth hormone deficiency may additionally show a
delay in facial bone development, teeth may show up later than expected and if
not treated may have permanent short stature. To diagnose this, the doctor may
do several tests and measurements to determine if the deficiency of this hormone
is the cause of the short stature. This may involve observing the child’s
growth pattern over a 6-to-12-month period, special blood tests to rule out
other causes, and an MRI or X-ray analysis if necessary.

hormone injections can help children catch up

children with growth hormone deficiency are diagnosed and get treatment on
time, they are able to catch up with their peers in height. Growth hormone
deficiency disorders can be treated very simply and easily today. Doctors can
show parents how to administer the treatment and children can go on to live
healthy and active lives.

Shalmi Mehta is a Consultant Pediatric Endocrinologist at Ahmedabad)

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