Understanding Child Growth Disorders

Erin was not too concerned that her son, Max, was small, until his height and weight began to deviate from his growth curve, he started having health issues, and he no longer could keep up with his classmates. Max was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency when he was 2 ½ years old.

Erin joins The Doctors and reports that Max is now almost 5 and is doing well after starting hormone treatment about a year ago.

Pfizer Chief Medical Officer Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall explains that most growth disorders can be treated, but timing is critical.

“It’s really important that parents have a really sharp eye on the growth and development of their children,” she says.

Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann says it’s important for parents to take their children to the pediatrician for regular well-child visits, so their doctor can track the pattern of growth over time.

“Height and weight are very good indicators of a child’s overall health,” she says.

Factors that influence a child’s height and weight include genetics, gender, nutrition, physical activity and hormones. After age 2, a child should grow at least two inches a year through puberty, Dr. Altmann says.

“If they are not, that is a sign that there may be a growth disorder,” she says.

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that growth disorders can be caused by a problem with the pituitary gland, which can lead to a deficiency or an excess of hormones.

Dr. Lewis-Hall says a problem with growth also could indicate heart, kidney or digestive problems. She says parents can monitor their children’s growth by marking their height on a wall and by noting how quickly they grow out of clothes and shoes.

If you suspect your child has a growth disorder, you should visit your pediatrician. You might be referred to a pediatric endocrinologist for treatment.

For more information, visit gethealthystayhealthy.com.

Sponsored by Pfizer.