Growth-related disorders in a child are due to either deficient or excess growth for a child’s sex, age and racial background. Growth rates are highly individualised and every child may differ mildly in it. But, when a child's growth differs grossly from others of the same age, it is necessary to consult a doctor. Growth disorders might have many reasons and it can be categorized as follows:
• Short stature – Frequently brought to notice by the parents when they compare their children with peers. It is mainly caused by genetic and acquired disorders. Constitutional delay is the most common cause while systemic diseases including digestive tract diseases, severe malnutrition, kidney, lung, heart diseases and diabetes are also common causes for short stature.
• Tall stature- Child’s height is greater than her or his family pattern of height. It is usually not thought to be of any significance because being tall is socially acceptable. But importance lies in the fact that several hormonal excesses can cause this abnormality.
All these disorders are diagnosed through proper clinical observation, hormonal evaluation and by ruling out other non-endocrine disorders. In certain cases, growth related disorder might be diagnosed at birth, when a new-born baby is unusually small for her or his gestational age. But majority of the genetic disorders come to notice between 4 to 10 years of age since this is the time when significant differences between these children and their peers can be identified. Early stages of growth disorders can also be diagnosed by regular check-up of the child through the means of monitoring growth velocity, which starts to decrease at the earliest from the expected standard. Many illnesses that cause growth problems can be corrected or managed with appropriate medical treatment. So, the mainstay of management is to correct treatable factors and if needed growth hormone would be supplemented. We as Endocrinologists play an important role in identifying correctable causes and treating it so as to bring the child back to a healthy state.