While you shouldn’t weigh and measure your child every day, it’s important to regularly check their growth development. Irregular growth can be an early warning sign of medical problems, says the International Society of Endocrinology.
One such medical problem is growth hormone deficiency which has been identified in about 1 in every 3 800 children.
That’s why it’s so important for parents to regularly check their child’s growth development. This can be done during visits to your healthcare practitioner and with the newly updated Growth Journey App.
Growth hormone is responsible for making us grow and it’s produced naturally in our bodies.
When a child is diagnosed as growth hormone deficient, it means their pituitary gland is not producing enough growth hormone.
Without enough growth hormone, a child doesn’t grow the way they should.
Paediatric Endocrinologist Dr Kuben Pillay says changes in a child’s growth patterns can happen during any of the 3 different growth phases through childhood:
- Between conception and the end of the first year of life (the infant phase)
- From approximately 1 year of age until the start of puberty (child phase)
- Between the start and end of puberty.
Reasons for changes in growth patterns
There are different causes that may change growth in these phases which is why the timing of the change in growth may offer important clues to the underlying cause.
For example, nutrition, both in the womb and after delivery, may result in changes in patterns of growth during the infant phase. Congenital abnormalities (particularly bone abnormalities) and genetic disorders may also be causes.
During the child phase many more possibilities may influence growth including genetic disorders (e.g. Turner syndrome), severe chronic disease (heart disease, severe asthma, kidney, etc.), severe malnutrition and hormonal disorders.
Growth changes in puberty is due to effects of the hormones of puberty viz. testosterone in boys and oestrogen in girls.
What is normal growth for a child?
The typical growth of a child, which would be considered normal, is as follows:
- From birth, infants grow about 20 cm in the first year of life.
- From 1 to 2 years of age, babies and toddlers grow about 10 to 13 cm.
- From 2 to 3 years of age, toddlers grow at a rate of about 7.5 to 10 cm.
- From age 3 years to puberty, growth is stable at around 5 to 6 cm per year until puberty.
Most of a child’s growth occurs before puberty, but the pubertal growth spurt accounts for more than 20% of adult height.
When puberty occurs, there is a fast phase of growth. With this guide, parents can easily notice whether their child reaches the growth requirements.
What should I do if my child’s growth is not on track?
If your child doesn’t meet the growth requirements, he or she might need to consult with a healthcare professional, undergo tests and possibly undergo growth hormone therapy.
It’s important that children who are growth hormone deficient are diagnosed and treated as early as possible so that their bones can grow and develop at a normal pace.
If a child doesn’t undergo treatment once diagnosed with growth deficiency, they might not reach a normal height etc., when becoming an adult.
The Growth Journey App
To aid parents in checking their children’s growth, Novo Nordisk has launched an app for growth monitoring in September 2020 called the Growth Journey App.
The Growth Journey App is a free growth tracking app that uses a phone’s camera to help you track your child’s growth regularly. The app automatically measures a child’s height and records it in the growth book with a visual record of all the measurements. It also shows your child’s growth over time and compares it to those of other children in his or her age group.
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