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Growth Problems

Growth disorders prevent children from reaching normal weight, height or sexual maturity. It is important to remember that it is not always a cause for concern if your child is not developing as quickly as their peers. Sometimes children are small for their age, but they still develop normally.

What are the symptoms of a growth disorder?

The most common symptom is that the child is noticeably shorter than other children of the same age. Other symptoms may include:

  • Delayed puberty, or not going through puberty at all

  • Chubbiness of the face and stomach

  • Face looks younger than other children of the same age

  • Slow tooth development

  • Slow hair growth

  • Failure to thrive (not gaining weight as expected)

  • Child grows less than 2 inches a year once reaching the age of 3

What types of growth disorders are treated?

MaineHealth providers treat a wide range of growth disorders related to diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism. These growth disorders include:

  • Precocious puberty

  • Delayed onset of puberty

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Growth hormone deficiency (the pituitary gland doesn’t make enough growth hormone)

  • Hypoparathyroidism (unbalanced levels of calcium and phosphorous)

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

How are growth problems diagnosed?

Your child’s primary care doctor has been charting your child’s growth. If the curve flattens out and the child stops growing, the doctor will perform a physical exam and might decide to order blood tests and x-rays.

Treating growth problems

Depending on the diagnosis, treatment for growth problems may include:

  • Growth hormone therapy

  • Creating a dietary plan to change nutrition and eating habits

  • Medications and vitamins

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