Wednesday, March 14, 2012
"Is My Child Growing Normally?" Facts from the Experts
That was the case with Sarah Kirmani’s baby, Alina, whose growth slowed at five months. “We decided to investigate rather than assume she was just a small baby,” says Kirmani, who lives in Markham, Ont. A paediatric cardiologist discovered that Alina had a heart condition that was hogging her little body’s supply of energy. After heart surgery at age one to correct the problem, Alina is now growing normally.
Growing really tall during the first year is usually no cause for worry, says Gorodzinsky. In extremely rare cases, a really big child could have a genetic or endocrine condition, such as gigantism, due to an excess of growth hormone. When the growth of a child’s head circumference is slow compared to the weight and length, it may suggest a problem with brain growth, and if the head grows too fast, it could be due to excess fluid in the brain. Talk to your child’s paediatrician if you have concerns.
Troubleshooting: If your child is smaller than expected, in rare cases, it could be due to an underlying medical condition. “But the most common problem we’re worried about at this stage is their weight going up because they’re eating too much junk food and not enough healthy food,” says Mylène Dandavino, a pediatrician at The Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Parents of super-tall kids may be concerned their child is sprouting up too quickly. That was the case with my daughter Sophie, now six. By age two, she was already three-foot-one (94 cm), skimming the top of the growth chart for height and towering over every toddler in her playgroup. It turns out Sophie was growing just like I had. “Kids often follow the same growth track as their parents,” says Dandavino. “So ask your own parents how you grew as a child.”
Through blood tests, an endocrinologist found that Samantha’s pituitary gland wasn’t producing enough growth hormone. Injections corrected the problem.
Dandavino emphasizes that growth hormone injections are used only when medically necessary, as in Samantha’s case. But injections won’t boost the height of a child who’s genetically programmed to be shorter, and they may cause side effects.
Kids who grow quickly may feel aches in the bones of their legs — often called growing pains. They are not harmful, but can be uncomfortable; massaging the legs may provide some relief. Some kids also experience growing pains as an acute, sudden chest pain, says Gorodzinksy. “That’s because the cartilage, the elastic band that joins the rib with the sternum, may not be growing at the same speed as the bones, so there’s a pull that feels like a sharp pain.”
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