The term short stature refers to a child whose height falls below 3% of other children of the same age and gender in the general population. Projected out to adult height, this is defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as less than 5'3" tall for males and less than 4'11" for females.
Short stature has a variety of causes. While some are associated with significant health problems, most are not. In fact, the overwhelming majority of children who are diagnosed with short stature don’t have any underlying medical conditions. In these cases, the cause is usually either:
Less often, short stature is due to a serious underlying medical problem. In these instances, other symptoms are typically present as well. Among the most common health conditions that can result in short stature, are:
In addition, certain medications, such as inhaled steroids used for asthma, can contribute to short stature.
Whether your child’s short stature is completely healthy or associated with an underlying problem, a complete evaluation from a growth specialist, such as board certified pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Chhavi Agarwal, is the only way to know for sure. Dr. Agarwal conducts a complete investigation of your child’s medical history, and a thorough physical examination, that may entail blood and other testing to make an accurate diagnosis. If you’re at all concerned, make an evaluation early. The opportunity for treatment of short stature ends when your child’s growth plates fuse after puberty.