Stunting and problems in child growth

Many parents compare the height of their children when leaving school with the rest of their classmates of the same age and, when they are not within the average, they tend to worry and go to the pediatrician in case their child has a problem related to growth.

However, only 20 percent of children who go to the pediatrician for a growth problem or short stature have a disease. The remaining 80 percent, who are short, are due to their genetic inheritance or because they suffer from delayed puberty, which is usually temporary.

Children's growth represents a very sensitive indicator to assess their health status, and any deviation from normal parameters is an alarm. There are three parameters to take into account when evaluating a child's growth: weight, height, and growth rate.

The normal values ​​of these variables have been reflected in special growth curves to correctly monitor the children. To do this, measurements must be frequent. This is very important, as isolated measurements of height are of little value.

In general terms, short stature is one that is below two standard deviations for age and sex in the height curve of the percentile tables. The causes that can produce a delay in growth are various and can be grouped into three categories:

- The short family stature, presenting children with parents of short stature; constitutional growth retardation, which affects boys more and begins in childhood with a slowdown in the rate of growth, despite being born with normal height and weight.

- Congenital disorders for which, in many cases, there is no treatment. The most common cause is growth retardation within the mother's uterus, due to infection, radiation exposure, or taking any medication, drug, alcohol, or tobacco.

- Disease for which, in many cases, there is an effective treatment. The pathologies that have the highest incidence in the childhood growth pattern are: malnutrition, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and kidney diseases, and endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency and Cushing's syndrome.

Read the second part of the article: Treatment with infant growth hormone.

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Video: Once stunted always stunted? Interview with IFPRIs Jef Leroy (January 2022).