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Short Stature: Causes, Tests and Treatments

Being short in stature can be a source of insecurity and social discomfort for many individuals, especially during childhood and adolescence.

Read further OR watch the video to know, how to tackle this situation & what steps you need to take.

A lot of parents approach us with a complaint that their kids’ height is not growing.

But before we begin, it’s important to know that a child’s height depends on their parent’s combined height or mid-parental height.


So whenever parents approach us with the complaint of short stature, we use multiple formulae to calculate their height’s standard deviation.

But we do not evaluate each and every child.
if the child’s height matches the percentile of their parent’s mi-parental height, there is no need to evaluate that child.

But if a child’s height is quite short compared to his/her mid-parental height, they need an evaluation.

Evaluation and Management of Short Stature

  • Hormonal factors :

Once we declare a child of short stature after detailed calculation, we often look out for hormonal factors.
If a child has hypothyroidism, it can impact his/her height.

  • Birth weight :

If the child is born with very less weight (small gestational age), then there is a possibility that his/her height is less.

Usually, these children catch up with the growth between 2 to 5 years of age.

But if they don’t, they might have to suffer from short stature.

  • Growth Hormone :

It is the most important factor affecting a child’s height.

The pituitary gland, located in the brain, produces this vital hormone.

A deficiency of this hormone can lead to short stature in a child.

Treatment becomes important if a child’s height is not increasing due to these factors.

Now let’s have a brief look at the treatments for short stature.

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    Treatments for Short Stature

    We consider certain factors like “Bone Age”  before we begin the treatment of short stature.

    Just like our body’s age, bone, too, has a specific age. We calculate it with the X-ray of a patient’s left hand.

    If we identify that there is a significant difference between the Chronological age and Bone age of the child, we conclude that his/her height is not increasing. Such children might need treatment.

    Here are some treatment options available:

    • Hormone Replacement:

    If a child’s height is not increasing due to the deficiency of thyroid hormone, thyroid hormone replacement can be very effective.

    • Growth Hormone:

    For the rest of the causes, like the deficiency of the growth hormone, Turner Syndrome or small gestational phase, we might have to provide growth hormones to the child.

    When a child’s pituitary gland cannot produce sufficient Growth hormone, such injections might prove helpful.

    Growth hormones are available in injectable forms only, and the child will have to take them daily in the stomach.

    After providing growth hormone, we constantly monitor the child’s height change and optimize the dose accordingly.

    It’s important to remember that if a child’s parents are also short, taking growth hormones will not benefit them.

    As we already mentioned earlier, a child’s height depends on his/her parents’ height.

    So if a child’s height is in line with his/her parents’ mid-parental height, there is no meaning in using growth hormone.

    There are no treatment options for such children. The child will grow in proportion with his/her parents only.

    Moreover, taking growth hormones doesn’t make sense if a child’s bones are fused together, which generally occurs at 12 to 13 years of age.

    The reason is growth hormone works only if the bones of hands and legs are not yet fused.

    Wrapping up

    In a nutshell, there could be a plethora of reasons why your child is not growing.

    So if you feel an issue with his/her height, you should consult your Endocrinologist immediately.

    Only a specialist can perform multiple tests, determine the cause of your child’s short stature, and chart out future treatment plans.

    Remember, early diagnosis is vital for the treatment of short stature. Once a child reaches 12 to 13 years of age, the chances of a successful treatment reduce drastically.

     If you need any more assistance or information related to short stature, feel free to reach out to us. Our experts are here to assist.

    About Author

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    Dr. Sajal Kamat

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