Short stature is defined as height that is two standard deviations below the mean height for age and sex (less than the 3rd percentile) or more than two standard deviations below the mid-parental height. The child's rate of growth is important. A downward growth trend suggests a slowdown in growth and possibly a growth problem. A growth velocity disorder is defined as an abnormally slow growth rate, which may manifest as height deceleration across two major percentile lines on the growth chart.
The causes of short stature can be divided into three broad categories:
- Familial short stature.
- Constitutional delay of growth and development.
- Chronic disease, including malnutrition and genetic disorders.
In some cases, short stature or slow growth is the initial sign of a serious underlying disease in an otherwise healthy child.
There are many reasons that your child has short stature.
Most of the time there is no medical cause for short stature. Here is what may be going on.
- Your child may be small for their age but they are growing okay. They will probably start puberty later than their friends. Your child will most likely continue to grow after most of their peers have stopped growing. Your child will most likely be as tall as the parents. Health providers call this Constitutional growth delay.
- If one or both parents is short, your child will mostly likely also be short. Expect that your child will be as tall as one of the parents.
Sometimes short stature may be a of a medical conditions such as:
- Bone or skeletal disorders such as rickets or achondroplasia
- Chronic diseases such as congenital heart disease, kidney diseases, asthma, sickle cell anemia,thalassemia, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
- Genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, Williams syndrome, Russell-Silver syndrome, and Noonan syndrome
- Growth hormone deficiency
- Infections of the developing baby before birth
- Poor growth of a baby while in the womb (intrauterine growth restriction) or small for gestational age.
This list does not include every possible cause of short stature.