Short stature or short height refers to a height which is less than the 3rd centile for the population. Indian Endocrinologists use the IAP growth chart to monitor growth and height of children. These growth charts can be downloaded easily from the internet and must be used at every visit by pediatricians. Parents can also monitor the height of children at home. All we need to know is the age of the child at that point in terms of months which is plotted along the X axis and the height of the child which is plotted along the Y axis. If the coordinate falls within the two dark lines that are provided in the graph then the child’s height is considered normal. If the coordinates fall below the dark lines then the child is suspected to have short stature. If the child has both parents short- this is the most common reason for having short stature.It is common for us to mark the target height of the child. The target height of a child is calculated using the Tanner formula. For boys the target height is the average of both parents height +6.5 cm; for girls the target height is the average of parents height -6.5 cm.
The most common hormone deficiency that causes short stature is juvenile hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism if it occurs during childhood and it remains untreated for months together reduces the growth velocity of the child. A child grows usually 4 to 5 cm per year between the ages of four and 12. If there is a condition called hypothyroidism that develops in these children, then the height can get severely impaired because growth literally stops during a few months of time when the hypothyroidism is untreated.
Hypothyroidism itself is easily treatable and easily detectable by way of simple blood tests. Another important cause for short stature is hypothyroidism which is treatable and it acts as growth hormone deficiency. Growth hormone deficiency requires sophisticated tests like IGF1, growth hormone stimulation test in order to identify whether there is actual growth hormone deficiency. GH deficiency is important to recognise because the response to treatment in GH deficiency is much better than other conditions where growth hormone is administered.
The typical answer for this question is Growth completed by the age of 16 to 18 years in most individuals and the leading end of bones which are responsible for producing growth or fused by this age. If one approaches an Endocrinologist after the age of 16, then the chances that further height increases can be accomplished is very minimal.
Short height can be a problem if the height is very less. For example in girls who have a height of less than 140 cm, during childbirth it can be a little difficult requiring a cesarean section. Apart from this short stature does not impede day-to-day activities in adults. Employment opportunities can be limited in those of short stature, because areas professions like security forces, Army, Navy have requirements for height which are minimum. This is a cause of great anxiety for adults who remain short. In severe conditions like growth hormone deficiency, Turner syndrome which remain and are treated through childhood, the adults remain short throughout the life. Psychological effects can be there due to lifelong short stature.Though this has not been scientifically studied and many adults with short stature are well adjusted to their condition.
The most common cause of short stature is familial Short stature. The person‘s height is less as an adult because both parents' height is similarly short. After this the next most common cause for short stature in growing children is actually nutritional deficiency, lack of availability of food, malabsorption syndrome, chronic disease like chronic kidney disease or chronic lung disease. These are some of the common causes for short stature.