Is my child growing normally?

A child’s growth is an important indicator of their overall health. As such, it should be very closely monitored by both you and your child’s primary healthcare team (typically made up of a pediatrician or family doctor and dedicated nurse).

Several factors, of both the “nature” and “nurture” kind, contribute to overall growth. Parental height and family history play an important role, along with proper nutrition.

While no two children grow at the exact same rate, a normal pattern involves rapid growth in the first one to two years of life, followed by constant, yearly growth until puberty.

As a rule of thumb, children should gain about 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 cm) and 4.5 to 9 pounds (2 to 4 kg) each year, from age three until puberty.

Although your child’s healthcare team is taking height and weight measurements at each check-up, you can also track height more frequently at home.

How to take standing height measurements

If you suspect your child’s growth is falling behind, talk to your healthcare team; they can help you identify factors that may be contributing to this delay.

What is growth hormone deficiency (GHD)?

GHD is a medical condition that occurs when a child’s body does not produce enough growth hormone (GH). As a result, normal growth slows down.

In addition to a smaller stature, children with GHD may develop other conditions later in life, including low blood sugar and weak bones.

Learn more about GHD…
If you believe your child’s growth is slow or stunted, ask your doctor about the possibility of a GHD or growth disorder.

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Signs and symptoms of GHD

Children with GHD have a slow or flat growth rate, which may not be noticeable until age 2 or 3.

Other possible symptoms of GHD include:

  • Slow increase in bone length
  • Young-looking face
  • Increased body fat around waistline
  • Delayed onset of puberty
  • Low blood sugar

GHD does not affect:

  • Body proportions
  • Intellectual development

Other growth disorders…

Along with physical effects, growth disorders may have social consequences.

Children who are shorter than their peers are often perceived and treated as younger; this “special treatment” can lead to low self-esteem, behaviour problems and bullying.

Help your child manage the social implications of being small, and work with your healthcare team to determine the cause of slow growth.

Children + adolescents growing too slowly may be candidates for growth monitoring and/or GH testing.

If your child has signs/symptoms of a GHD or growth disorder, ask your doctor if your child should be referred to a growth specialist for possible testing.

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