Growing and growth disorders

Growing and growth disorders

How can I tell if my child is growing adequately?

You can monitor your child’s growth almost immediately from birth. While newborn babies do lose some weight immediately after birth (up to 5%-10% is normal), from the second week until the third month they will normally gain approximately 150-200g a week. Your baby's weight should have doubled by the time he or she is five months old.

While some children gain a lot of weight in the first six months, others do so between 10 and 18 months. If you examine your child’s height and weight regularly, you will see a pattern emerging. It doesn’t matter whether your child is slightly shorter or taller than average as long as their height and weight gain patterns remain constant. Premature babies are often measured against a different growth rate chart.

If your child varies suddenly from his or her personal pattern, consult your doctor.

What causes a growth disorder?

While parents understandably may want an explanation as to what exactly is causing a growth disorder in their child, it is often the case that there is no single reason.

A child’s growth depends on many elements, including hereditary and dietary factors, exercise, severe stress and social influences. A lack of oxygen to the baby at birth can also have an effect on a child’s physical development. Among the problems which can stunt the growth of a child are a deficiency of growth hormones, a lack of thyroid hormone and nutritional problems.

Diseases of the pituitary gland (responsible for growth), the brain or liver can also affect the physical development of a child. Any serious illness which is untreated or poorly treated can have an effect on the child’s growth.

What are the symptoms of a growth disorder?

The child should be weighed regularly and measured regularly by doctors or other healthcare personnel. This is often done at school. The doctor will take into consideration the height and weight of the parents at birth, during puberty and in adulthood.

Among the many symptoms which may suggest that a child has a growth problem is altered development of the teeth, abnormal formation of the cartilage and bones, and the development of a thick layer of fat beneath the skin. Doctors and parents may also examine the child's stools, as some children have problems absorbing the nutrients in food. This can result in the unusual pattern, appearance or odour of the stool.

Are there any treatments available?

There are many growth diseases which are hereditary, environmental or the result of another illness and some can be treated with hormone injections. If your child shows signs of deviating suddenly or dramatically from their personal height and weight growth pattern, it is crucial to consult a doctor immediately.

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