Parents concern about their children’s final height because they think it may affect their future. But besides that, height actually is a manifestation of one’s health status. Most parents think that height is only related to genetic factors (dad and mom’s height). But actually, there are a lot of other growth factors contributing to a child’s final height, such as growth hormone, thyroid hormone, sex hormone etc.
Kids growth at a different pace in different age. The following growth chart shows the average growth rate from infancy to adolescence.
Kids grow very rapidly in the first few years. The growth velocity slows down gradually until puberty when it reaches another peak. Before puberty (around 4-9 years old), average kid can grow 4-6cm/year. If they fail to grow at this growth velocity, a thorough medical consultation is needed to find out the underlying cause and to provide appropriate medical treatment.
Medical researches and studies have demonstrated the effect of growth hormone for children with short stature. It basically can stimulate bone growth and increase final height. However, it only works before the fusion of growth plates which occurs when the child has signs of late puberty. The earlier the treatment starts, the better the result.
Thorough consultation and investigations are needed before considering growth hormone therapy. X-ray hand and wrist for bone age should be done to determine whether the bone has fused or not and at the same for final height prediction. Blood tests such as renal /liver function test, IGF1, thyroid function test, and or sex hormone level should be done to find out the underlying cause for short stature. Up to now, growth hormone has been shown to be effective in the following conditions: growth hormone deficiency, small for gestational age, Turner syndrome, growth retardation related to chronic renal failure and idiopathic short stature.
Growth hormone therapy has been used for more than 30 years. It is generally safe and effective. Some patient may experience its side effects such as growing pain, leg swelling, elevated blood sugar level, slipped capital femoral epiphysis, exaggeration of scoliosis and increased intracranial pressure. There is so far no evidence of increase in cancer risk with growth hormone injections. Although all side effects are rare, patient and parents should discuss with their doctor thoroughly before considering the treatment.
The information on this website is for general educational purpose only.
Readers should consult their physician before considering treatment, and should not interpret their condition solely based on the information above.