3 signs to identify children at low risk – VnExpress


Short children often have different manifestations such as growth retardation, commensurate or disproportionate short stature…

A child with short stature means that the growth rate is not normal compared to peers of the same sex and age. According to master, doctor Nguyen Anh Duy Tung – Nutrihome Nutrition Clinic System, for children, growth rate is an important leading indicator to assess overall health. However, short children can have different manifestations or appearances. For example, at 8 years old, your baby’s arm span is usually the same as his height. If these measurements are not correct or approximate to scale, this could be a sign that the child is disproportionately short and at low risk.

Accordingly, Dr. Tung added that children with short stature are divided into 3 types including:

Slow growth: When a child cannot keep up with the standards of weight and height for age, it is considered growth restriction or growth retardation. However, if parents have an early intervention direction, children can completely improve their height in the future.

Children with growth retardation can have different symptoms. Source: Shutterstock

Some warning signs of the risk of stunting and growth retardation according to each child’s developmental age include: the baby’s length is less than 50cm at birth, the baby’s height is less than 25cm per year in one-year-old children, and the baby’s height is less than 10cm. Every year during the preschool years, there are signs of precocious puberty.

Relatively short stature (PSS): That is, although the child has limited growth in height and weight, the child’s body develops proportionately between the parts. Specifically, arms, legs, body… are all small or short. Signs of this condition include slow growth for age, delayed sexual growth or absence, and height below the 3rd percentile.

Children with PSS are more likely to face health problems such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems, decreased muscle strength, etc.

Disproportionately short stature (DSS): The child’s appearance is unusual. Specifically, children’s arms and legs are often very short, their height grows very slowly compared to normal, and the head size may be large and disproportionate. More dangerously, a child’s concentration, brain activity, and cognitive ability may also be adversely affected when a child has DSS.

Besides the disproportionate appearance, the average height of people with DSS in adulthood is also limited, only about 122 cm. In addition, children are also at risk of diseases such as bow legs, abnormally curved spine, limited mobility in the elbows, large head with prominent forehead and flat nose bridge, fibroids, etc. Genetic diseases such as Achondroplasia syndrome, Turner syndrome, Down syndrome or Prader Willi syndrome are also associated with DSS.

According to Dr. Tung, other causes that can lead to a child’s short stature are nutritional deficiencies, genetics, and hypothyroidism leading to a lack of growth hormone. In addition, some chronic diseases, such as celiac disease and other inflammatory disorders, diseases of the musculoskeletal, lung, heart, kidney, liver or gastrointestinal tract are also causes.

“Compared with two cases of short stature (PSS) and disproportionate short stature (DSS), the condition of children with growth retardation is likely to be better,” said Dr. Tung.

The doctor examines and advises on a diet to improve children's stature at Nutrihome.  Source: Nutrihome

The doctor examines and advises on a diet to improve children’s stature at Nutrihome. Source: Nutrihome

Treatment of growth retardation in children depends greatly on the correct identification of the cause. Therefore, if parents detect that their child has abnormal signs, they need to take the child to a doctor as soon as possible.

Usually, the doctor will perform a physical exam, weigh the child’s height and weight. After that, the specialist will conduct a number of paraclinical tests such as: body composition measurement, bone age scan, blood test, cranial magnetic resonance imaging, thyroid stimulating hormone test… to find appropriate and effective treatment.

Scientific nutrition is a very important factor contributing to the child’s ability to develop height, weight and stature. Nutrition for children with growth retardation needs to be balanced between four main groups of substances: protein, sugar, fat, and micronutrients. Parents ensure parallel two factors of quantity and quality of meals. Mothers should not arbitrarily supplement height-enhancing drugs or micronutrients such as calcium and zinc without consulting a doctor. Adults should have children visit with nutritionists to have a diet suitable for the health status and eating preferences of each child.

In addition, parents should help children thoroughly treat nutritional diseases such as stunting, anorexia, malnutrition, obesity, malabsorption, constipation… optimization is limited. Normally, about 90% of children under 2 years of age will catch up with the growth momentum, reach a stable height and weight milestone when they are adults with appropriate treatment.

Nguyen Pham

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