Short Height in Children
Your child seems short next to other children of the same age. Should you worry? Most
likely, you don't need to.
Some children grow more slowly than others. Height in the low normal range is still
normal, healthcare providers say. If the parents are short, it is likely that their
children will be, too.
Ask your child's healthcare provider
Although being short is common, growth disorders are not. Don't ignore your concerns—talk
with your child's healthcare provider. During well-child checkups, your child's height
and weight are measured. These measurements are compared to other children of the
Growth and growth problems
Here are some common causes of growth problems:
Periods of less rapid growth may follow growth spurts.
A small child who stops growing may have a problem.
A small child who's growing at a normal rate usually does not have a problem.
Long-term (chronic) illness, poor nutrition, and hormone problems can affect growth.
Testing and diagnosis
The best test to monitor your child's growth is the growth chart. Each year, your
child's height and weight are plotted on a chart by their healthcare provider. It's
the growth rate that's most important to watch. Your child may need tests if the provider
thinks your child has a growth problem. These tests may include an X-ray of the hand
and wrist, called a bone age X-ray. This can show how much further growth your child
has left. Blood tests may be done if the provider thinks your child may have a systemic
or hormonal disease. In general, if your child's growth rate is consistent, more evaluation
is often not needed. But if the growth rate slows, or if your child's overall height
is below the 3rd percentile for their age, then further evaluation may be done.
Causes of short height
Here are some common causes of short height:
Family history. For example, short parents often have short children.
Illnesses that affect the whole body.
Hormone diseases, such as lack of thyroid or growth hormones
Medicine side effect
The child is healthy, and there's no known cause for short height (idiopathic short
Can growth hormones help? Yes, but only in some children. And only if the hormones
are given before the bones finish growing. If you're concerned about your child's
height, talk with their provider to see if growth hormones might be appropriate.