Growth patterns in children are different from child to child. For example, baby boys grow faster than girls until about 7 months. After that, girls grow faster until about age 4. The growth rate then becomes the same for both until puberty. The average growth rate is 2 to 3 inches, or 5 to 6 centimeters, per year.
A child's height depends a great deal on their parents. Tall parents usually have tall children. Small parents, as a rule, have small children. A short child, who has short parents, does not necessarily have a growth problem. While these children will have growth spurts and enter puberty at normal ages, they will usually only reach a height similar to that of their parents.
Nutrition, genetics, hormones, and chronic (long-term) diseases can all affect growth. When a child's growth seems to be lagging behind, the cause may be a natural growth delay or a growth disorder. A child with a growth delay may still go through all other development stages normally.
There are several possible causes for growth problems.
Regular tracking of the child's height and weight is used to check the child's growth rate. Parents who suspect that their child has a growth problem should take their child to a healthcare provider for an exam. You may suspect a growth problem if:
Your child may have blood tests to check how well various organs function. Special tests may be ordered to check hormone levels. Your child may also need to have an X-ray of his or her wrist to measure bone growth and age. Occupational therapists may also watch your child's feeding behavior.
Treatment for growth delay depends on the cause. Malnourished children may need high calorie supplements. Hormone shots or pills may help a lack of hormones.
Children often compare themselves to their friends. This comparison can be a source of much distress to a child and his or her parents. It is important that a child's concern not be dismissed as unimportant.
If you are concerned about your child's growth, talk with your healthcare provider about your child's growth and medical history. If you have medical records that show your child's height and weight (including birth records), bring them to a visit.