Causes of growth delays
Children who have a short stature or delayed growth that is not caused by a medical condition, and who are generally healthy, will usually catch up with their peers. Some children may also stay short due to family history, delayed puberty, or an unknown cause that does not impact their health.
Some children will have delayed growth because of medical conditions. Chronic underlying conditions that can cause growth disorders include:
- Coeliac disease
- Heart disease
- Bone disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Kidney disease
All of these conditions should be treated on their own and your child’s growth can be monitored by your paediatrician alongside treatment.
Diagnosing Growth Disorder
During your appointment, our paediatrician will want to discuss your family history and ask you some questions about your child’s health and lifestyle as well as any additional symptoms you may have noticed. They will also likely perform a physical exam and possibly ask for a bone age test and blood tests depending on their findings.
The physical test is a simple height and weight measurement which is then matched to a paediatric growth chart and checked against your child’s previous history and mid-parental height.
If your child measures in the lower percentiles not in keeping with their mid-parental height range, the follow up will be required to look at growth velocity and they may be referred for a bone age test. This is a simple x-ray that shows how much your child’s bones have matured and helps your consultant understand how your child is developing. This can also help to give a picture of how your child might grow into adulthood.
Blood tests can also be used to look for underlying conditions such as anaemia that will help to diagnose the cause of a growth disorder.
All tests will be discussed with you so that you feel comfortable with the decision.
Treating Growth Disorders
Treatments for growth disorders vary widely. Your paediatrician will need to look at any underlying conditions or causes before offering a treatment or care plan. Your doctor will also need to factor in your child’s age, current health, the severity of the disorder, and your child’s ability to cope with various treatment options or medications.
Most treatments will be for an underlying condition that is causing the growth problem rather than the problem itself. The most frequently prescribed treatments include:
- Stopping medication that might be causing growth delay (where safe and appropriate)
- Altering your child’s diet to optimise their nutritional intake or remove foods that are exacerbating growth problems (such as gluten in children with coeliac disease)
- Various vitamin supplements or medications
- For simple conditions such as a constitutional delay in growth and puberty in boys, a trial of testosterone may be required to stimulate the onset of normal puberty
If your child has a specific endocrine issue then your child is likely to need stimulation tests that can only be done in hospital, examples include growth hormone stimulation tests. Your doctor will advise which tests are required and will help with the onward referral.
Whatever treatment pathway your doctor prescribes, you will be given ample time to discuss the treatments and make sure you are comfortable with them.
Booking a consultation with our Paediatrician is straightforward, simply book online, email your enquiry [email protected], call our reception team on 0333 9000 010 or enquire online.
Summerfield Healthcare’s medical reception team are specially trained to deal with all enquiries in a professional, prompt and private manner.