Understanding Growth Retardation in Children: A Comprehensive Overview
Every parent desires their child to grow tall, healthy, and develop comprehensively. However, there are instances where children experience a lack of height growth or consistently remain shorter than their peers. This article aims to provide information on growth retardation in children, including normal height growth, signs of growth retardation, causes, and available treatment options.
1. Normal Height Growth
The following are approximate measurements of height growth at different stages of a child's life:
- Newborn: Typically, newborns have a height ranging from 48 to 52 cm, with an average of 50 cm.
- First year: Babies usually grow about 20 to 25 cm during their first year.
- Second year: A growth of around 12 cm is expected during the second year.
- Third year: The child grows approximately 10 cm taller during the third year.
- Subsequent years: From ages 4 to 11, children generally gain an average of 6 cm per year.
- Puberty: During puberty, girls tend to grow around 6 to 10 cm per year, while boys experience growth ranging from 6.5 to 11 cm per year.
2. What is Growth Retardation?
When a child fails to achieve the expected height milestones according to the mentioned age groups, it is referred to as delayed height growth. In such cases, it is advisable for parents to consult a doctor to screen for factors contributing to early growth retardation and seek timely intervention.
Signs of Growth Retardation in Children
Parents can recognize signs of growth retardation through the following indications: short stature, delayed height growth, and being physically "younger" than their actual age. If a child's height fails to reach the milestones according to their age or grows slowly (less than 5 cm per year for children aged 3 years and older), it is crucial for parents to take their children to a specialist for diagnosis and treatment promptly. By doing so, children have a higher chance of achieving a normal height as adults.
Many adolescents with growth retardation, often attributed to growth hormone deficiency, may experience low self-esteem due to shorter height and delayed maturity. Specifically, girls may have delayed breast development, while boys may not experience voice changes during puberty, setting them apart from their peers.
3. Causes of Growth Retardation in Children
While nutritional factors and genetics are commonly associated with slow height growth, it is important to note that delayed height growth can stem from various causes. Some common causes of growth retardation in children include:
3.1. Growth Hormone Deficiency
Insufficient production of growth hormone in the child's body can result in a hormonal deficiency. This deficiency can be congenital or caused by damage to the pituitary gland, head trauma, brain tumors, or infections like meningitis and encephalitis. In some cases, the cause of growth hormone deficiency remains unknown.
The prevalence of growth hormone deficiency is estimated to be between 1 in 4,000 to 1 in 10,000 infants. Early detection and timely treatment before puberty are essential for optimal effectiveness. After the closure of the child's bone cartilage, typically after the age of 13, growth hormone treatment becomes less effective.
Insufficient production of thyroid hormones, which directly impact growth and metabolism in the body, can lead to growth retardation.
3.3. Genetic Factors
Children's height can be influenced by genetic factors, with short parents often having shorter children, and vice versa. The calculation for estimating adult height based on genetic factors is as follows:
Daughter's height = (father's height - 13cm + mother's height)/2.
Son's height = (mother's height + 13cm + father's height)/2.
3.4. Fetal Malnutrition
Malnourished fetuses tend to have lower birth weights and slower physical growth compared to their peers. This condition is commonly known as fetal undernutrition.
3.5. Turner Syndrome
Turner syndrome occurs in girls due to an abnormality in the X-chromosomes, resulting in growth retardation.
3.6. Down Syndrome
Down syndrome can cause growth retardation in children.
Certain types of anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, can contribute to growth retardation in children.
3.8. Chronic Diseases
Children with chronic kidney, heart, digestive system, or lung diseases may experience physical development issues affecting their growth.
3.9. Prenatal Drug Use
Children with delayed height growth or stunted growth may be the result of indiscriminate drug use during pregnancy.
3.10. Poor Nutrition
Nutrition plays a vital role in children's growth. Chronic malnutrition significantly impacts height growth.
4. Treatment for Children with Growth Retardation
To make a definitive diagnosis, the doctor will conduct specialized tests and assessments, including blood tests to identify acquired diseases, bone age measurement, brain imaging to check for abnormalities or tumors (such as pituitary tumors), among others. This helps determine the exact cause of growth retardation, enabling appropriate treatment.
If a child is diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency and requires treatment, the doctor may prescribe daily growth hormone supplements. Early treatment for growth hormone deficiency, starting when the child's height growth begins to slow down, can lead to positive outcomes and enable the child to develop almost like their peers.
To improve growth retardation in children, parents should ensure their children receive supportive products containing lysine, essential micronutrients, and vitamins like zinc, chromium, selenium, and B vitamins. These nutrients help meet the child's nutritional needs, enhance digestion, improve nutrient absorption, and address appetite issues, promoting healthy eating habits.
Natural dietary supplements and functional foods that facilitate easy absorption can also be incorporated. It is important to note that the improvement of symptoms takes place over the long term, and continuously changing or combining multiple supplements in a short period may disrupt the baby's digestive system and impede progress.
In conclusion, understanding growth retardation in children is essential for early detection and appropriate treatment. Parents should consult medical professionals for accurate diagnosis and guidance to ensure optimal growth and development for their children.