Short stature means that a person is significantly shorter than average compared with others the same age. About 2.3% of people in the United States have short stature.
Short stature can have several causes. These include
Family history of short stature
Certain chronic diseases. These include heart disease at birth and some diseases of the kidney and bowels
Disorders of the bones or skeleton
Low levels of thyroid hormones or growth hormone
Poor growth of a baby in the womb
If you are concerned that your child is growing too slowly, you should tell a doctor. The doctor will examine your child and review your child’s birth history. The doctor will also
Ask about medical problems and delays in development
Ask about poor school performance
Review your child’s diet
Review the medications your child takes (some medications may affect growth)
Ask if anyone in your family has had growth problems or delayed puberty
Order laboratory or x-ray studies if needed
Slow growth may not be a cause for worry. But the doctor might suggest treatment with growth hormone if your child
Is growing poorly, with no cause found
Has no other diseases
Is very short
Is expected to be very short as an adult
Is expected to respond well to treatment
Treatment will begin only after you and your child have thoroughly discussed the treatment with the doctor. Children treated with growth hormone grow an average of 2 inches from what was expected. But this happens only after many years of treatment. If your child is treated, his or her growth response will be measured after 6 to 12 months. This will help the doctor decide if treatment should continue. Complications might also happen. Rare complications include increased pressure inside the skull. Or, the top part of the thigh bone might slip out of place. It is not known what other complications might happen over time. If complications happen, treatment might be stopped, temporarily or permanently.
Human Growth Foundationhttp://www.hgfound.org/
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA’s website at jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: The author has completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and reported serving as an independent data and safety monitor for Ipsen/Tercica.
Additional Contributions: I thank Jill Merrigan, Clinical Crossroads Coordinator, for assisting with the content of this article.
Source: Cohen LE. Idiopathic short stature: a clinical review. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.3970.
Cohen LE. Short Stature. JAMA. 2014;311(17):1822. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.1874