A child who has short stature is much shorter than children who are the same age and sex.
Your health care provider will go over your child's growth chart with you. A child with short stature's height is:
Idiopathic short stature; Non-growth hormone deficient short stature
Your child's provider checks how your child is growing at regular checkups. The provider will:
There are many reasons why your child has short stature.
Most of the time, there is no medical cause for short stature.
Sometimes, short stature may be a symptom of a medical condition.
Bone or skeletal disorders, such as:
Long-term (chronic) diseases, such as:
Genetic conditions, such as:
Other reasons include:
This list does not include every possible cause of short stature.
Contact your provider if your child appears to be much shorter than most children their age, or if they seem to have stopped growing.
The provider will perform a physical exam. The provider will measure your child's height, weight, and arm and leg lengths.
To figure out possible causes of your child's short stature, the provider will ask about your child's history.
If your child's short stature may be due to a medical condition, your child will need lab tests and x-rays.
Bone age x-rays are most often taken of the left wrist or hand. The provider looks at the x-ray to see if the size and shape of your child's bones have grown normally. If the bones have not grown as expected for your child's age, the provider will talk more about why your child may not be growing normally.
Your child may have other tests if another medical condition may be involved, including:
Your provider keeps records of your child's height and weight. Keep your own records, too. Bring these records to your provider's attention if the growth seems slow or your child seems small.
Your child's short stature may affect their self-esteem.
TREATMENT WITH GROWTH HORMONE INJECTIONS
If your child has no or low levels of growth hormone, your provider may talk about treatment with growth hormone injections.
Most children have normal growth hormone levels and will not need growth hormone injections. If your child is a boy with short stature and delayed puberty, your provider may talk about using testosterone injections to jump-start growth. But this is not likely to increase adult height.
Cooke DW, DiVall SA, Radovick S. Normal and aberrant growth in children. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 25.
Cuttler L, Misra M, Koontz M. Somatic growth and maturation. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 22.
Escobar O, Viswanathan P, Witchel SF. Pediatric endocrinology. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 9.
Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM. Short stature. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 173.
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.