The physical growth of children is a concern shared by many parents. “How tall will he be? Is she gaining enough weight? How well do my children fit the growth charts?”
These are commonly asked questions and frequently expressed anxieties.
For the most part, children pretty much follow the growth patterns that are exhibited by their parents and grandparents. The old adage “the apple does not fall far from the tree” is certainly true when it comes to children’s sizes. Thus, when obvious differences in growth rate or in measurements of height and weight occur, evaluation to determine why is in order.
Here are some specific points to consider if you become concern about your child’s growth.
- Accurate measurements of height, weight and head circumference, plotted on standard growth charts, are an essential part of the well child visits. Only with such data, can assessments of normal patterns of growth, or deviations from it, be made.
- A number of medical conditions, including thyroid disease, pituitary gland dysfunction and adrenal gland disorders, or even malnutrition may account for sudden changes in the growth curve of a child. If such a rapid deviation does occur then a proper and thorough assessment of the factors that contribute to growth should be done.
- Many medical disorders that result in growth changes, such as growth hormone deficiency, are treatable.
- Always be guided by the experience and expertise of medical professionals who care for children with growth disorders. The growth of a child’s body is guided by many complex and inter-related components and only those truly familiar with those factors should guide both the diagnosis and treatment when concern about growth is raised. Usually this is the area of work of the pediatric endocrinologist.
- The diagnosis of growth abnormalities may take time and require laboratory and radiologic evaluation.
The vast majority of children follow the size and growth patterns of their families. When that is not the case, careful assessment by a qualified children’s medical doctor is in order. In those rare cases the apple may no longer be under the tree and intervention to bring it back to its proper place may indeed be in order.