Does Height Equate To Health In Children?

There may be cause for concern of a medical condition.

Did you know that poor growth may actually be a sign of an underlying health condition in some children? As such, Novo Nordisk Pharma (M) Sdn Bhd has launched ‘It’s More Than Height – It’s Health Awareness Campaign’ to bring light to growth disorders some children may face. Dr Muhammad Yazid Jalaludin, Consultant Paediatrician and Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist, Head of Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) walks us through some of the facts.

Signs of a medical condition to look out for:

  1. A growth of less than five centimetres annually or if your child’s growth rate falls by two or more percentiles in the growth chart.
  2. A loss of appetite.
  3. Delayed puberty. For girls, this constitutes as no breast development by the time they are 13 and no menstrual spotting by age 15. For boys, no enlargement of the testes by the age of 14.

Plausible reasons:

  1. Growth Hormone Disorder (GHD) happens when abnormal short stature is attributed due to a lack of the growth hormone.
  2. Turner Syndrome in which it is a chromosomal condition specific to females and usually evident by the age of five.
  3. Small for Gestational Age (SGA) whereby a fetus or an infant is smaller than what is considered to be average for the baby’s gender and gestational age.

What next?

If there is cause for concern, you need to first consult a paediatrician to conduct baseline measurements and history-taking to ensure it is a medical condition. If there is reason to believe that it is due to hormones, the child should then be transferred to a paediatric endocrinologist where baseline blood investigation and stimulation tests can be run to affirm if the lull in growth is due to a deficiency in the growth hormone (a type of protein that not only stimulates height growth but helps maintain muscle and bone mass, decrease fat tissues, and influence blood lipid levels such as cholesterol and triglycerides.