• Dr. Yuksel Yurttas

Causes of Short Stature and Treatment Options

The term "short stature" describes individuals whose height is much shorter than average compared to their same-age individuals. Although the phrase is more frequently used to describe children, it can allude to grownups.

Sometimes it is normal for kids to be shorter than their friends, mainly if both parents are shorter than usual. But sometimes, short-statured kids grow less than typical over a year. They could also regress further as they grow older compared to kids their age, which points toward a growth issue.

height measurement examination

With timely diagnosis and treatment, many kids in such situations can reach an average height. Doctors delineate a child as having short stature if his tallness is two standard deviations behind the average.

What are the reasons and treatment options for short-stature kids? Let's find out in this article!

Short stature diagnosis

Some short-stature conditions can be identified from birth. In other instances, regular pediatrician checkups should spot any unusual growth patterns.

The pediatrician will note the child's weight, height, and head size. The doctor will conduct a checkup, review the child's medical and biological history, and might prescribe some investigations if they have any reason to believe that the child's growth is constrained.

These may consist of the following:

  • An x-ray to check for issues with bone growth

  • A test for insulin tolerance determines whether the growth hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 is deficient (IGF-1). In this examination, insulin is administered intravenously to lower blood glucose levels. Usually, this would cause growth hormone production from the pituitary gland. There can be a Growth hormone deficiency if GH levels are below average.

  • Screening for a thyroid-stimulating hormone to detect hypothyroidism

  • C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation tests to detect inflammatory bowel illness

  • A complete blood count is to check if the patient is anemic

  • Metabolic tests to evaluate the health of the liver and kidneys

  • Urine tests to see Enzyme deficiency conditions

  • Immunoglobulin A and tissue transglutaminase testing for the celiac disease

  • Other imaging tests like an x-ray of the bones and the head or an MRI can identify issues with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.

  • Bone marrow or skin biopsies can also diagnose diseases linked to short height

In addition to these investigation tests, the physician will also inquire about the medical background of your family and your child to diagnose the Short Stature. So be ready to answer the below mention question:

  • What is your family's average height?

  • Does your family have any history of disease?

  • When did puberty start for both parents?

  • When did both parents' periods of adolescence begin?

  • How went the delivery of your child?

  • Is your child's maturation showing any correlations?

  • What is the typical diet of your child?

What causes short stature?

Genetics, disease, and constitutional growth delay are the leading causes of short height.

Constitutional growth delay

Simply said, some kids mature more slowly than others. These children frequently hit puberty late and are undersized for their age. However, they will continue developing height long after their peers have stopped. Usually, by maturity, they have caught up.


The low familial height is the possibility of a child having shorter parents and grandparents. Additionally, the desired height is only an estimation, and some kids don't get as tall as they should.


Several illnesses can result in abnormally small stature. There are various classifications for these illnesses.

Endocrine Conditions

Endocrine disorders frequently impact height and hormone production. These consist of the following:

  • Lack of growth hormone (GHD)

  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels)

  • Cushing's syndrome

Chronic illnesses

The pituitary gland, situated in the brain's center, creates growth hormones. As a result, persistent health issues involving the pituitary gland may also impact growth. Short stature can result from childhood cancer or its medication, for instance, as radiation to the brain might disrupt pituitary function.

Growth-impairing gastrointestinal conditions, including celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, may also be to blame.

  • Numerous additional illnesses, such as:

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Renal disease

  • Immunological disease, and various other endocrine problems, can also slow down the development rate.

Genetic conditions

Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Noonan syndrome are a few genetic disorders that can cause short height.

Bone diseases and Malnutrition

By affecting bone growth, some illnesses, like rickets or achondroplasia, may alter height.

Difficulties during pregnancy may also reduce a child's height. Short stature might result from Malnutrition as well. Lack of nutrients is a frequent reason for developmental delay, regardless of whether it's brought on by a scarcity of nutrition, an eating disorder, an inherent disease, or a medication that affects appetite.

Treatment of Short Stature

The treatment regimen will rely on what led to the short stature.

The kid may require vitamin supplements or treatments for a gastrointestinal disease or other diseases that keep them from getting nutrition if there are symptoms of Malnutrition.

Treatment with Growth hormone might be required if hormonal issues prevent or delay growth. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set the green light for administering growth hormones in treating several conditions that result in short stature.

hgh for short stature

Those conditions are growth hormone deficiency, Prader-Willi syndrome, Noonan syndrome, Turner syndrome, kidney disease, and when a child is extremely small for weeks of gestation lacking growth.

A daily hormone injection may promote physical growth later in life in kids who make too little Growth hormone. Drugs like somatropin may gradually increase adult height by 4 inches (10 cm).

Moreover, if a grownup suffers from a short stature problem, Somatropin can help them.

Treating Short Stature—Limb Lengthening As The Final Modality Of Treatment

While the Growth Hormone treatment often works fine for short-stature sufferers in their childhood, experts are looking at the more efficient and best ways to address the issue. If anybody does not respond well to the Growth hormone treatment before the end of puberty, physicians can suggest limb lengthening as the final treatment modality.

Limb lengthening is the ultimate solution for short stature as well as for patients who want to be taller for cosmetic or psychological reasons. Check out the article to learn more about the age limit for limb lengthening surgery.

Limb lengthening surgery, also known as stature lengthening surgery, is a surgical procedure that increases a person's height by lengthening their bones. Limb lengthening is accomplished using the body's ability to naturally regenerate new bone.

With a bilateral limb lengthening procedure, a healthy adult patient can gain height up to 6 cm in the tibia (lower leg) or up to 8 cm in the femur (upper leg). With two limb lengthening procedures, it is possible to gain up to 15 cm.

The Takeaway?

If you are a parent, talk to your pediatrician as soon as you discover indications that your kid's growth is being slowed because early diagnosis and treatment can help your child mature to a healthy human height. Finding the root causes of your child's sluggish development will help you decide if or not treatment is an option.

Book a free consultation to learn more about the treatment of short stature and determine your eligibility for limb lengthening.

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