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Short stature is a height that is less than or the same as the third percentile for a person's age, sex, and race.
It is broken down into three subgroups:
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Familial and constitutional delays are due to the child's genes. If both parents are shorter than normal, the child will most likely have short stature. The child may also have delayed puberty. This may cause brief short stature. Normal height will be reached in time.
Health problems that may lead to short stature are:
Things that may raise your child's chance of short stature are:
Symptoms differ from child to child. Children with familial short stature may not have any. They will often reach a height that is like their parents.
Children who have delayed puberty will often have a close person in the family with the same problem. These children will also catch up to their peers in time.
Your child may have a health problem if he or she has:
You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Your child's height, weight, and body will be measured. The skull and facial features will also be checked.
Blood and urine tests may be done.
Pictures may be taken of your child's bodily structures. This can be done with x-rays.
Genetic tests may be done.
Children with familial short stature do not need to be treated. For others, the doctor will focus on the cause of short stature. Treatments can differ greatly. Medicine or nutrition changes may be needed.
Your child may be given:
If a medicine is causing short stature, you may be told to stop taking it. Make sure to talk to your doctor before stopping any medicine.
Not eating the right foods can lead to short stature. It may be due to a lack of proper food or other health problems. In either case, a change in diet may help. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to help make changes.
Short stature can’t be prevented in children who have a familial short stature or short stature from genetic problems. Short stature from health problems can be prevented by treating the problem causing it. In some cases, you can lower your child’s risk of getting short stature by having your child eat healthy foods.
Pregnant women can lower the risk of short stature in their children by:
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
The MAGIC Foundation
Little People of British Columbia: Society for Short Stature Awareness
Short stature in children—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115198/Short-stature-in-children-approach-to-the-patient#Pathogenesis. Updated July 17, 2017. Accessed July 3, 2018.
When a child is unusually short. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/Glands-Growth-Disorders/Pages/When-a-Child-is-Unusually-Short.aspx. Updated June 21, 2016. Accessed July 3, 2018
Last reviewed May 2018 by Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 7/3/2018