Does your child seem much shorter - or much taller - than other kids his or her age? It could be normal. Some children may be small for their age but still be developing normally. Some children are short or tall because their parents are.

But some children have growth disorders. Growth disorders are problems that prevent children from developing normal height, weight, sexual maturity or other features.

Very slow or very fast growth can sometimes signal a gland problem or disease.

The pituitary gland makes growth hormone, which stimulates the growth of bone and other tissues. Children who have too little of it may be very short. Treatment with growth hormone can stimulate growth.

People can also have too much growth hormone. Usually the cause is a pituitary gland tumor, which is not cancer. Too much growth hormone can cause gigantism in children, where their bones and their body grow too much. In adults, it can cause acromegaly, which makes the hands, feet and face larger than normal. Possible treatments include surgery to remove the tumor, medicines, and radiation therapy.

Symptoms of Growth Disorders

The following features are indicative of Growth Disorders:
  • short stature
  • an average-size trunk
  • short arms and legs
  • short fingers
  • limited mobility at the elbows
  • progressive development of bowed legs
  • progressive development of swayed lower back
  • ears are low-set
  • neck appears wide or weblike
  • roof of the mouth is narrow
  • hairline at the back of the head is lower
  • lower jaw is lower and appears to fade away
  • drooping eyelids and dry eyes
  • fingers and toes are short
  • hands and feet are swollen in infants
  • nails are narrow and turn upward
  • chest is broad and flat
  • nipples appear more widely spaced
  • height at birth is often smaller than average
  • breast development may not occur
  • menstrual periods are absent or very light
  • vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse
  • infertility
  • curving of the pinky toward the ring finger
  • delayed bone age
  • failure to thrive
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • kidney problems
  • low birth weight
  • large head for body size
  • poor growth
  • delayed stomach emptying and constipation
  • wide forehead with a small triangle-shaped face and small and narrow chin

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Common Causes of Growth Disorders

The following are the most common causes of Growth Disorders:
  • achondroplasia
  • turner syndrome
  • growth hormone deficiency
  • mutations in GH1, GHRHR, BTK genes
  • monosomy
  • mosaicism

Other Causes of Growth Disorders

The following are the less common causes of Growth Disorders:
  • deficiencies in growth hormone
  • poor nutritional status
  • presence of Y chromosome material which increases the risk gonadoblastoma cancer

Risk Factors for Growth Disorders

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Growth Disorders:
  • loss or alteration of the X chromosome occurs randomly

Prevention of Growth Disorders

No, it is not possible to prevent Growth Disorders.
  • family inhertance

Occurrence of Growth Disorders

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Growth Disorders cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Rare between 10K - 50K cases

Common Age Group

Growth Disorders can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Growth Disorders can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Growth Disorders

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Growth Disorders:
  • Imaging tests: To find out abnormalities of the skull and skeleton and abnormalities of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus
  • Genetic tests: To diagnose genetic problems
  • Hormone tests: To measure the levels of growth hormones

Doctor for Diagnosis of Growth Disorders

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Growth Disorders:
  • Pediatrician

Complications of Growth Disorders if untreated

Yes, Growth Disorders causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Growth Disorders is left untreated:
  • thyroiditis
  • kidney problems
  • middle ear infections
  • scoliosis
  • chewing or speaking difficulty if jaw is very small
  • learning disabilities
  • delays in motor skills development
  • bowing of the legs
  • sleep apnea
  • excess fluid around the brain
  • crowded teeth
  • arthritis

Procedures for Treatment of Growth Disorders

The following procedures are used to treat Growth Disorders:
  • Surgery: Stabilizing and correcting the bones and shape of the spine
  • Surgical treatments: Removing the excess fluid around the brain
  • Limb lengthening: Limb lengthening by surgery
  • Growth hormone therapy: To increase height as much as possible at appropriate times during childhood and teen years
  • Estrogen therapy: To begin puberty and achieve adult sexual development

Self-care for Growth Disorders

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Growth Disorders:
  • Proper support in car: Use firm back and neck supports in car
  • Have proper infant carriers and play equipment: Avoid infant devices that don't support the neck
  • Provide adequate support: Support your child's head and neck when he or she is seated
  • Maintain good posture
  • Have healthy diet

Patient Support for Treatment of Growth Disorders

The following actions may help Growth Disorders patients:
  • Healthy activities: Encourage your child to participate in appropriate recreational activities
  • Provide personal adaptive tools
  • Talk to educators: Talk to school personnel about what your child needs in the classroom a
  • Talk about teasing: Encourage your child to talk to you about his or her feelings
  • Education: Helps developing coping strategies
  • Peer group support: Helps reinforce self-esteem and provides a social network of people who understand patient's experience with Turner syndrome

Time for Treatment of Growth Disorders

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Growth Disorders to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Growth Disorders.
Endocrine Diseases
Pituitary Disorders
Turner Syndrome

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