Small Stature Causes
Some growth problems are genetic, while others may be caused by hormonal disorders or poor absorption of food. Causes for growth problems usually fall into three categories:
Genetic Short Stature
This is the most common reason for short stature. Short stature is most often familial, meaning the child has inherited short height from one or both parents. Other genetic causes for short stature include abnormal bone development and some syndromes, including Down, Turner, Noonan and Prader-Willi.
Constitutional Growth Delay with Delayed Adolescence or Delayed Maturation
Children who are shorter than average for their age and begin puberty later than average may have a growth delay, but not a disorder. Most of these children eventually grow to about the same height as their parents. A key distinction between a short child with a growth delay and a short child with a growth disorder is that the rate of growth in a child with growth delay is usually normal (at least two inches a year).
Abnormal (or Attenuated) Growth
Illnesses that affect the whole body (also called systemic diseases) that may cause growth problems include constant malnutrition, digestive tract diseases, kidney disease, heart disease, lung disease, uncontrolled diabetes and severe stress. Some children are abnormally small at birth and don’t catch up. Endocrine disorders that may result in abnormal growth include the following:
- Untreated hypothyroidism
- Growth hormone deficiency
- Absence of puberty
- Excess cortisol hormone production