Short stature and the overall development of the child are factors that should concern parents. Normal growth is based on child development curves that are divided into percentiles, which indicate whether height, weight, and body mass index are within the normal range for the child’s age. Children under the 3rd percentile on the growth curve fall into the short stature category.

What are the causes of short stature?

Genetic (hereditary) factors are the often the causes of short stature. This means that although the children are under the 3rd percentile their growth rate is normal, and they enter puberty normally – but their final stature may be short.

Another major cause of low stature is constitutional delay (normal children who are small for their age but have a normal growth rate). In this case, the children are under the 3rd percentile and their growth rate is marginally normal. These children usually enter late into puberty and their final height is determined by hereditary factors.

There are physical and pathological causes that can affect a child’s growth rate, such as endocrine disorders, chronic diseases, genetic syndromes, malformations and gastrointestinal disorders.

How is short stature diagnosed?

Short stature is one of the normal reasons to visit an endocrinologist. After taking a complete family and individual history, the doctor will conduct a clinical examination and tests, including haematological and hormone screening, hand and wrist x-ray, and growth hormone stimulation test (glucagon, clonidine, propranolol, l-dopa), in order to determine the cause.

How is short stature treated?

Treatment of short stature is based on three factors: the child’s age, general health and the cause of the disorder. For example, if short stature is due to growth hormone deficiency, then this hormone will be administered. In all cases, the child should be monitored regularly by an endocrinologist.

The Paediatric-Adolescent Diabetes clinic at MITERA Children’s Hospital is run by Dr Nikolaos Kefalas, Paediatrician-Endocrinologist. The team is comprised of nurses, paediatric endocrinologist, psychologist and clinical dietician-nutritionist who oversee the treatment, support and education of children with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, at both the initial diagnosis and during the subsequent progression of the disease.