Is Height An Indicator Of A Child's Development? Here's What Expert Has To Say
Increase in physical height depends on a host of factors, which changes as the child grows. Read here to know more about these.
Growth hormone is responsible for the growth of a child along with other hormones
- Many factors determine height of the child
- Hormones play an important role in growth of the child
- Every kid grow differently
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.
Many factors determine height
Increase 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 percentile.
Should 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.
About growth hormone deficiency
Growth 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.
Growth hormone injections can help children catch up
If 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.
(Dr. Shalmi Mehta is a Consultant Pediatric Endocrinologist at Ahmedabad)
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