Proactive, Specialized Treatment for Growth Issues
The multidisciplinary endocrinology team at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s offers extensive expertise for growth disorders in children. The collective experience of our board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric endocrinologists, social workers, nurses, dieticians and other pediatric specialists ensure patients receive timely, team-based care in an encouraging, understanding atmosphere.
Children grow at different rates, and family members often struggle to distinguish between what is normal and what is not. While the appearance of fast and slow growth patterns may simply follow family genetic traits, sometimes there is an underlying issue.
Pediatric specialists can guide family members to make informed decisions that ensure proactive identification and timely response when an issue presents itself. Because early intervention is an important factor to long-term outcomes, we want to help you become mindful and watchful of potential issues. Our team of endocrinology specialists is here to provide expert support, make recommendations based on the latest best practices and ensure you fully understand the implications of all choices.
Growth Disorders in Children: A Closer Look
There are many factors that come into play before a child is diagnosed with a growth disorder. In simple terms, growth that falls below or above average ranges for a child’s age, gender, family history or ethnic background may point to a potential issue.
Many children inherit certain growth characteristics, including short or tall stature or a growth delay that is attributed to their timeline for beginning puberty. In the latter case, a child’s growth rate often slows down after early-stage puberty or speeds up once late-stage puberty begins.
Outside of inherited traits, growth issues can stem from many conditions and endocrine system diseases such as:
- Systemic diseases: Illnesses that impact the whole body including constant malnutrition, digestive tract diseases, kidney disease, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or chronic severe stress are known as systemic diseases.
- Endocrine (hormone) diseases: These conditions can either stunt or speed growth. Some endocrine diseases originate with the thyroid hormone, an important factor in bone growth, and the pituitary gland, which produces growth hormones. Other hormone issues that impact growth include Cushing’s syndrome and precocious puberty, a condition that causes fast growth at an early age but later halts, allowing a child’s peers to catch up.
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR): Known to slow the growth of a baby in the uterus, many factors can contribute to IUGR, including smoking during pregnancy or insufficient prenatal care.
- Genetic disorders: Including Turner syndrome, Down syndrome and achondroplasia, genetic disorders can affect growth and development.
Diagnosing Growth Disorders in Children
Some growth disorders in children are identified at birth, although most go unnoticed until a child appears small or large when compared to other children of the same age. Sometimes, an abrupt slowing or speeding of growth over a period of months can also be an indicator of a problem.
Tracking and monitoring growth over time is paramount to early identification of an issue. A child’s pediatrician or primary care physician should be able to identify trends over time, otherwise growth disorders in children may be diagnosed too late for the most effective interventions.
Our pediatric care specialists work with referring physicians and family members to monitor growth trends when a potential issue is identified. A thorough examination is completed by a multidisciplinary team that understands the challenges a child is facing, both physically and emotionally. Family health history is an important part of this equation, and our pediatric specialists may also order blood tests and X-rays to check for hormone, bone and genetic disorders.
Expert Approach, Comprehensive Response
Our caring team of pediatric specialists are committed to making sure your child receives the best care possible to achieve optimal outcomes. That’s why we take a comprehensive approach that considers not only medical treatment but also lifestyle changes that can substantially improve your child’s growth outlook.
Depending on the diagnosis, your child will not only work with endocrinology specialists and nurses, but they will also engage with dieticians, behavioral physiologists and in some cases, geneticists. This comprehensive approach ensures a holistic approach to treatment that promotes positive behavior change.
For instance, sometimes growth disorders contribute to weight gain and childhood obesity. We offer specific programs that help children set and achieve weight loss goals through healthier eating, physical activity and accountability.
Ongoing communication with family members and patients ensures a collaborative approach to pediatric care. Also, our multiple locations throughout the community ensures you have easy, convenient access to our team of endocrinologists. It’s important to us that patients and families understand all aspects of diagnosis and treatment for growth disorders. Our pediatric specialists are available to answer questions during the day, and our endocrinology after-hours support is ready to help you and your child if issues arise.