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Children - growth retardation

Q: A premature born baby is now 12 yrs old. His physical growth is less than normal growth of kids his age. X-rays examined at Sanjay Gandhi hospital in Lucknow (UP) says bone growth is same as 10 yrs old kid. It has been observed that his height is less than others of same age. We are worried about his physical and mental growth. Kindly advise.

A:The child"s height and weight need to be measured accurately and the results should be plotted on a standard growth chart. This will reveal which centile line he is on and will show how he compares with normal children. His growth should be followed for several months and any tendency to grow slowly noted.

It would probably be wise to rule out hypothyroidism (lack of thyroid hormone) as this causes short stature and delayed bone development. This can be done by measuring plasma T4 (thyroxine) and TSH. His premature birth is important as preterm babies are often less well grown that normal children.

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