All parents closely monitor the physical development of children, especially in the first years of life. When a baby differs from his peers in height and strong physique, it becomes a reason for joy for moms and dads. Conversely, small children are perceived as weak and frail against the background of their peers. Although, in addition to linear parameters, they may not differ from their peers in any way.
We learned from an endocrinologist whether it is worth worrying about the slow growth of a child, how to correct the situation, whether it is possible to «grow up» with the help of exercises and what you need to know in order not to miss pathology.
Why the child is far behind in growth?
This can be the result of a variety of reasons. For example:
pathology of intrauterine development;
hereditary diseases that lead to impaired bone growth;
hormonal disorders (excess of some hormones or deficiency of others);
taking medications for the treatment of other chronic diseases;
the presence of severe chronic diseases;
some chromosomal abnormalities;
other rare hereditary diseases.
Of course, we do not recommend making a diagnosis yourself. If something bothers you, you should consult a doctor who will accurately determine the leading factor determining low growth.
How is this related to somatotropin?
Growth hormone (GH), or somatotropin, really determines how a person grows. But the connection is not always direct: if the child is short, it cannot be said that it is only a deficiency of this hormone. For example, the growth and development of a baby is determined, among other things, by the production of thyroid hormones.
And in adolescence, sex hormones contribute to the growth rate, which affect growth both directly and indirectly, through increased secretion of somatotropin.
But if growth hormone is not enough, it can lead to the development of stunting — that is, the child’s height is lower than that of his peers. This disease is treated with growth hormone in the form of special medications.
If the disease is noticed in time, while the growth zones are still open, then the child can be helped and form a normal, socially acceptable growth for him.
So, of course, the growth rate is related to the level of GR, but not only with it. Growth characteristics are also determined by a hereditary factor, especially in boys.
There are situations when the level of growth hormone is normal, but the boy grows poorly, later peers enter puberty, but eventually aligns with them in height after a while. Most often, the father or close male relatives had the same developmental features, and there is no pathology here.
Also, growth disorders occur with congenital pathology of bones and cartilage, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, heart defects and many other diseases.
Up to what age are the growth zones open
Growth zones are areas of long tubular bones, due to which growth occurs and in which there are active processes of cell division and bone formation. The growth zones are almost closed, the active growth of bones in length slows down sharply and stops within a few years from the beginning of sexual development. But this is a very individual process, which is also influenced by many genetic and hormonal factors.
How can growth be changed?
If growth retardation is associated with endocrine pathology, then treatment is required, which leads to an increase in parameters. If low (but within normal limits) growth is determined by genetics, then in this case no treatment is required, it’s just a feature of a particular person. Special therapies are being developed for some skeletal abnormalities.
Is it true that exercise can increase height at any age?
There are no special exercises to improve growth, but exercises, especially for the back muscles, make a beautiful posture, which visually can really add a couple of centimeters in height.
It is also known that any child needs moderate physical activity, good nutrition, timely and sufficient sleep for proper growth and development.
What should parents do?
For parents who have noticed something wrong with the physical development of the child, the main thing is not to panic.
Firstly, if it seems to parents that the child is far behind in growth, this is not always the case — it is necessary to check with the norms for a specific age, gender and stage of sexual development, and why you need to ask a doctor.
Secondly, children do not grow evenly. For example, growth slows down before the onset of puberty. And it may turn out that the child’s height corresponds to the lower limit of the norm for his age, but at the same time he looks small against the background of peers. This difference worries parents, but in fact, in a few years everything will even out.