Short stature is a height that is smaller than the average height for a person's age, sex, and racial group. It is specifically height that is in the third percentile.
Short stature is generally broken down into three subgroups:.
Contact a doctor if you notice a significant decrease in your child's growth rate or if your child has stopped growing.
Familial and constitutional delay are due to the child's genetic make-up. If both parents are shorter than average, the child will most likely have short stature. The child may also have delayed puberty. This may cause temporary short stature, but normal height will eventually be reached.
Medical conditions that may contribute to short stature, include:
Factors that may increase the risk of short stature include:
Symptoms vary depending on the type of condition. Children with familial short stature do not have any disease-related symptoms. They will often reach a height similar to that of their parents.
Children who have delayed puberty, late bloomers, will often have a close relative with the same delay. These children will also eventually catch up to their peers in height.
Symptoms that may indicate a medical condition include:
Your child’s doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your child's height, weight, and body proportion will be measured. The skull and facial features will also be examined.
Some tests may be done to diagnose or exclude contributing conditions. These tests may include:
Children with familial short stature do not require treatment. For others, treatment will focus on the cause of short stature. Treatments can vary greatly but may include medication or nutritional changes.
Medication that may be used to treat associated conditions include:
If a medication is associated with short stature your doctor may stop the medication. Make sure to talk to your doctor before stopping any medication.
Malnutrition can contribute to short stature. It may be due to a lack of proper food or other conditions like gastrointestinal problems. In either case, a change in diet may help. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to help make effective changes to your child's diet.
Short stature cannot be prevented in children who have a familial short stature or those who have a chronic disease. In some cases, you can minimize your child’s risk of developing short stature by making sure the child eats a nutritious diet.
Parents can minimize the risk of short stature in their children by eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy.
Little People of America (LPA), Inc.
Human Growth Foundation
International Skeletal Dysplasia Registry
The Magic Foundation
BC Health Guide, British Columbia Ministry of Health
Little People of British Columbia: Society for Short Stature Awareness
Short stature. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated August 2011. Accessed August 8, 2012.
Short stature. Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America website. Available at: http://www.posna.org/education/StudyGuide/shortStature.asp . Accessed August 8, 2012.
Little People of America (LPA), Inc. website. Available at: http://www.lpaonline.org . Accessed September 2005.
Is your child growing normally? The Magic Foundation website. Available at: http://www.magicfoundation.org . Accessed August 8, 2012.
When a child is unusually short or tall. American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthy... . Accessed August 8, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Michael Woods