Growth disorders present themselves in a variety of ways. For some children this may mean they grow slower than others while for others it may mean an accelerated rate of growth. Getting an accurate measurement of a child to evaluate a possible growth disorder is imperative to a proper diagnosis. With a proper diagnosis your child can be treated for their growth disorder.
If you suspect your child might have a growth disorder check with your family doctor and ask for an accurate measurement of your child. If the doctor suspects your child has a growth disorder he or she will give you a referral to a pediatric endocrinologist.
How will your child be diagnosed? On a routine doctors visit, your child will be weighed and measured. If your general physician notices that your child is growing faster than his or her peers he or she may send you to an endocrinologist for further evaluation.
Or perhaps your child seems farther behind (often called Failure to thrive) than his or her peers. An endocrinologist will evaluate your child with a complete physical exam. Endocrinologist work closely with many specialists to determine the underlying cause of growth disorders and treat them in order to help your child grow properly.
After a complete physical exam an endocrinologist will have some lab work done to test your child’s hormone levels. If any of your child’s hormone levels are off the endocrinologist can adjust them with the proper medications. The proper adjustment of these medications will help your child to grow properly. Getting accurate measurements of these hormones may take a few different visits to the endocrinologist.
In addition to lab work the endocrinologist may also want to do a bone age test. This test is a simple X ray of your child’s left wrist. The bone age can tell the doctor a lot about your child’s growth rate and whether or not your child has a growth disorder. The doctor may then compare your child’s X ray to X rays of other children that are about the same age. By doing this your doctor can get an accurate measurement of where your child is at growth wise compared to other children of the same age.
The endocrinologist will also want a complete family history from both parents. This information will include grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and other relatives. The doctor will want to know how tall the rest of the family is. The doctor will also want to know if anyone else in the family has had growth disorders, diabetes, Addison’s disease or any other diseases that can affect growth. In the case of girls especially the doctor will ask probing questions about puberty and at what age did the relatives go into puberty. When did they begin developing and when did they start menstruating.
Accurate measurements can help compare a child’s growth to that of other family members. Often conditions such as Central Precocious Puberty and diabetes run in families. With this information the doctor can further evaluate your child.
After a thorough evaluation, the doctor will compile the information and decide how to best treat your child if he or she suspects a growth disorder. Accurate measurements will help your doctor to know if the treatment is correct for your child and how to proceed further.
Remember, its never easy being the shortest or tallest child in a classroom. Prepare your child to deal with teasing and how to handle it. Help your child to build a healthy self esteem and reassure your child that no matter how tall or how short he or she is, you still love them. An accurate diagnosis can help your child to deal with being different.