Learn more about specific growth disorders

Different growth disorders can affect a child’s health in many different ways and can be caused by a variety of factors. Learn more about specific diseases.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, which can result in slowing down of the body processes. In children this can mean slower growth and delayed puberty. Hypothyroidism in children is generally quite rare.

Growth hormone deficiency (GHD)

When a child is diagnosed with GHD, it means that their body is not producing enough growth hormone, so they are not growing the way they should. GHD affects about 1 in every 30,000 children per year.

Malnutrition and malabsorption

Malnutrition and malabsorption can occur if a child is not having enough, or the right type, of nutrients, which can lead to a reduced rate of growth and weight. In addition, certain conditions such as Crohn’s disease can impact whether they are able to absorb the nutrients from the food they are eating.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD)

CKD can occur as the result of a number of different factors, from genetic to physical. Children with CKD have reduced renal function leading to reductions in calorie intake, electrolytes and production of growth hormone. All of these factors can negatively impact growth in children.

Turner syndrome (TS)

TS is one of the most common types of growth failure and short stature in girls and women, affecting 25–50 per 100,000 females. On average, girls with TS tend to reach an adult stature that is 20 cm less than target height. Other developmental problems may also occur leading to significant challenges for the girl’s health and wellbeing.

Silver-Russell syndrome (SRS)

SRS or Russell-Silver Syndrome (RSS) as it is sometimes called, is a rare genetic growth disorder. Children are generally born smaller than expected with distinct facial features. Sometimes different parts of the body will grow at different rates. Children with SRS will not catch-up to normal height in the first 2 years of life, and will need treatment early on.

Skeletal dysplasias

Growth in children is a sensitive indicator of health, nutrition and genetic background. Growth is regulated by several factors, and any fault in these factors can lead to a growth impairment. Skeletal dysplasias are a group of anomalies occurring from birth, which affect cartilage and/or bone growth. Skeletal dysplasias can occur in approximately 1 in 5,000 births.

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS)

PWS is a rare genetic disorder in which a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus doesn't develop as expected. PWS is associated with a number of issues including short stature, difficulties with behavioural and social skills, and distinct facial features. PWS affects about 1 in 20,000 children.

Noonan syndrome (NS)

NS is a genetic disorder that occurs in both boys and girls. As well as a short stature, it can affect the body in many ways, including facial features, skeletal changes and cardiac anomalies. NS affects between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 2500 children.

Small for gestational age (SGA)

Most babies with SGA will catch-up to a normal length and/or weight by 2 years of age. Approximately 2.3% of all new-borns are born SGA.

Idiopathic short stature (ISS)

ISS is a term used to cover a wide range of conditions that are associated with short stature. Idiopathic generally refers to a condition which arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown. These conditions are difficult to diagnose and are often caused by unknown genetic factors.

Familial short stature

Children with familial short stature tend to fall at the lower extreme of the growth chart (below the 3rd percentile) and their growth is usually impacted by their parents’ heights. This does not tend to impact their overall health and their height is generally considered to be appropriate for their genetic potential based on their parents’ heights.

Constitutional delay of growth and puberty

Constitutional growth delay refers to children who are small for their age but who grow at a normal rate. They often have a delayed bone age, meaning their skeletal maturation is younger than their age in years. Although puberty may be delayed, they tend to catch up with their peers when they reach adult height.
Male and female patients waiting in corridor of medical centre

Talking to your doctor about child growth

If you are concerned about your own or your child’s growth, you should speak to a doctor. This section will help you with what questions to ask, so that you can be prepared.