Diseases Hindering the Height Development Process

Height has become a mandatory criterion for admissions in various fields of study and employment. Possessing an ideal stature can contribute to a brighter future for your child. Height development is a continuous process, starting from fetal development and extending until around the age of 20. By investing in proper nutrition, daily physical activity, and sufficient sleep, height can continue to progress. Let’s explore the diseases that can hinder the height development process.

However, there are cases where despite focusing on these three factors, height seems to remain stagnant. This situation could indicate a growth disorder in your child. What reasons might be preventing further height growth, and is there any way to address it? Let’s delve into our following article for more insights.

What is Growth Disorder?

Growth disorders encompass issues that hinder normal development in children, affecting their height, weight, sexual maturation, or other characteristics.

Growth disorders occur due to various underlying reasons. In most cases, the causes stem from one of the following medical conditions below.

Top 9 Conditions Impeding Height Development

The potential for height growth can be influenced by several diseases attributed to endocrine disorders (hormonal imbalances). Among these, thyroid hormone and growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland are crucial for normal bone development.

Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD)

What is Growth Hormone?

Growth hormone (GH) is a substance that regulates body development. It’s produced by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. The production of GH promotes linear growth, increases bone and muscle mass, and reduces body fat.

In both children and adults, growth hormone also aids in controlling metabolic processes, converting food into energy, and generating essential substances. Excessive or deficient GH levels in your child can lead to health issues.

The thyroid gland is small in size and located at the base of the brain, responsible for controlling various other glands.

The thyroid gland is small in size and located at the base of the brain, responsible for controlling various other glands.

Role of the Pituitary Gland

Despite its small size, the pituitary gland, situated at the base of the brain, plays a vital role in producing hormones for the body. Hormones produced by the pituitary gland control several other glands in the body, including the thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes.

Inadequate secretion of necessary hormones by the pituitary gland can affect other glands, disrupting normal bodily functions. Moreover, the pituitary gland produces growth hormones that facilitate comprehensive physical development in children.

Pituitary Gland Insufficiency

Pituitary gland insufficiency refers to the gland’s inability to produce an adequate amount of hormones required by the body. The pathologies associated with this condition tend to progressively worsen, leaving the body weakened and devoid of vitality.

When the pituitary gland weakens, the levels of growth hormone become insufficient for the body’s needs. Regulating bone density becomes challenging, and cartilage tissues at the ends of bones fail to stimulate growth, resulting in early ossification and hindering further bone elongation.

Thyroid Dysfunction

What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, along the trachea. It consists of two lobes connected by an isthmus in the middle. The thyroid gland contains numerous blood vessels and nerve fibers.

The thyroid gland secretes several hormones collectively known as thyroid hormones. The primary hormone produced is thyroxine, also referred to as T4. Thyroid hormones function throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth, development, and body temperature regulation. During infancy and childhood, sufficient thyroid hormone levels are crucial for brain development.

The decrease in hormones leads to a noticeable difference in height compared to same-age peers.

The decrease in hormones leads to a noticeable difference in height compared to same-age peers.

Impact of Thyroid Dysfunction on Height Development

Thyroid dysfunction is a common cause of delayed development. This is because thyroid dysfunction leads to a decrease in serum concentration and a reduction in thyroid hormone levels, significantly affecting body growth and development.

Persistent thyroid dysfunction can result in reduced adult height. However, this condition can be treated through thyroid supplementation. According to research, thyroid supplementation can accelerate the growth rate in normally developing children. Nonetheless, there’s no certainty whether this height increase achieved through this process leads to reaching a standard height for children.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), disrupting the function of the adrenal cortex. Individuals with Cushing’s syndrome often experience headaches and blurred vision due to tumors affecting vision.

In children, Cushing’s syndrome can lead to rapid weight gain and early puberty. Early puberty often shortens the period of height growth, resulting in limited height attainment during adulthood.

Bone Disorders

Bone disorders significantly impact both longitudinal growth and bone density. If your child’s height hasn’t seen changes, it’s worth considering whether they may be affected by one of the following bone disorders.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D facilitates the body’s absorption of Phosphorus and Calcium from food. Phosphorus and Calcium are regarded as the mineral duo crucial for building strong, healthy bones. Severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to thin, brittle, or easily fractured bones.

Bone disorders hinder the longitudinal growth of bones.

Bone disorders hinder the longitudinal growth of bones.

Rickets

Rickets is a condition characterized by soft and weak bones in children. The primary cause of rickets in most cases is prolonged and severe vitamin D deficiency. A common symptom of rickets is bowed legs.

Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid hormones regulate Calcium and Phosphorus balance in the body. Thyroid disorder often occurs when the thyroid glands produce insufficient thyroid hormones. This can result from surgical damage to the parathyroid glands, their deficiency or malfunction, or low Magnesium levels in the body.

Calcium Abnormalities

Calcium abnormalities encompass both deficiency and excess levels of calcium in the blood. Low blood calcium levels often occur due to vitamin D deficiency, parathyroid insufficiency, or chronic kidney disease. Common symptoms of low blood calcium include muscle cramps, numbness, tingling, itching, and seizures.

Conversely, elevated blood calcium levels occur when the calcium concentration surpasses the permissible threshold. This condition can arise from hyperparathyroidism, cancers (such as lung or blood cancer), elevated vitamin D levels, or excessive use of vitamin D and calcium supplements. Excess blood calcium can weaken bones and impede heart and brain function. Other symptoms of high blood calcium include constipation, dehydration, and kidney stones.

Brittle Bone Disease

Brittle bone disease, also known as osteogenesis imperfecta, is a genetic disorder causing incomplete bone formation. Those afflicted with brittle bone disease typically have extremely fragile bones that can fracture even from mild impact.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that is increasingly affecting younger age groups. It occurs in children when the bone formation process faces issues, either due to hyperthyroidism or insufficient calcium and vitamin D. Symptoms of childhood osteoporosis include joint pain and body deformities like spinal curvature, stooped posture, or a wobbly gait.

Osteoporosis is increasingly affecting younger individuals

Osteoporosis is increasingly affecting younger individuals

Infantile Osteonecrosis

Infantile osteonecrosis, a rare genetic condition, presents shortly after birth. In this condition, bones do not form properly, leading to abnormally thick yet weak and prone-to-fracture bones. Bone necrosis can result in short stature, hearing and vision impairment, frequent fractures, and infections. Children with this condition typically exhibit low blood calcium and thyroid hormone levels.

Read more: How Does Bone Density Affect Height?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a condition affecting the digestive system, including the colon, small intestine, and large intestine. Among them, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two distinctive forms characterized by immune cells causing damage and inflammation to the lining of the colon or intestines. Approximately 25-40% of patients develop symptoms during childhood and adolescence.

IBD complicates the process of food absorption and digestion. Consequently, the conversion of food into energy and essential nutrients necessary for bone development is also impacted. Moreover, IBD has a significant impact on the immune system’s health.

In children, IBD often presents symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in the stool. Additionally, affected children frequently experience fatigue, lack of vitality, occasional fevers, and vomiting.

Kidney Disorders

Children with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) often struggle to maintain proper nutrition and linear growth. Particularly, compromised nutritional status directly contributes to inadequate linear growth.

When afflicted with kidney disease, body growth is often stunted due to various factors. Specifically, inadequate nutrition and accompanying conditions like anemia, bone and mineral disorders, endocrine changes, and steroid use contribute to poor growth outcomes.

Achondroplasia Syndrome

80% of growth disorders and stature anomalies are caused by genetic mutations, with the remaining 20% being due to heredity.

80% of growth disorders and stature anomalies are caused by genetic mutations, with the remaining 20% being due to heredity.

What is Achondroplasia?

Achondroplasia is a disorder of bone development that leads to disproportionate dwarfism. Individuals with achondroplasia typically have short stature with a normal trunk and shortened limbs. This is the most common form of disproportionate dwarfism.

According to Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), Achondroplasia, the growth disorder, is prevalent in both genders, males and females. However, this phenomenon is not widespread.

Causes of Achondroplasia

During development, new bones are formed through the conversion of cartilage. However, if your child has Achondroplasia, cartilage cannot fully transform into bone due to a mutation in the FGFR3 gene.

The FGFR3 gene is responsible for producing a protein crucial for bone development and maintenance. Mutations in the FGFR3 gene cause the protein to be overly active, impeding the normal development of the skeletal system.

Is Achondroplasia Genetic?

According to The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), over 80% of Achondroplasia cases are not inherited. These cases result from spontaneous mutations in the FGFR3 gene.

Around 20% of remaining growth disorder cases are hereditary. This type of mutation is usually dominant on the chromosome. This means that if either parent has the condition, there is a 50% chance of passing it on to their child.

Conversely, if both parents have this syndrome, there are three possible outcomes for their child’s body:

CaseProbabilityDescription
125%25% chance of having normal stature.
250%50% likelihood of inheriting a faulty gene causing achondroplasia.
325%25% chance of inheriting two defective genes, leading to a lethal form called homozygous achondroplasia. Infants with homozygous achondroplasia often die shortly after birth or within a few months.

If there’s a history of Achondroplasia in your family, you may consider genetic testing before pregnancy to fully understand the potential health risks for your future child.

Adult Height of Individuals with Achondroplasia

According to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the average adult height for individuals with Achondroplasia is around 4 feet 1 inch (125 cm) for males and 4 feet (120 cm) for females. It is exceedingly rare for an adult with Achondroplasia to reach a height of 4 feet 11 inches (150 cm).

Read more: #3 Best Sleeping Positions for Height Growth

Noonan Syndrome

What is Noonan Syndrome?

Noonan Syndrome is a disorder characterized by abnormal features in various parts of the body. The hallmark of this condition includes distinctive facial features, short stature, heart defects, bleeding problems, skeletal deformities, and several other signs and symptoms.

Causes of Noonan Syndrome

Noonan Syndrome is caused by alterations in specific dominant genes on autosomes. An individual with Noonan Syndrome may inherit a mutated gene from either the mother or the father. Additionally, this gene mutation can arise from errors in the egg or sperm during fertilization.

The Impact of Noonan Syndrome on Body Development

AspectCharacteristics
Facial FeaturesNotable features include deep groove between the nose and mouth area, widely spaced eyes often in pale blue or greenish-blue color, ears folded downward at the back.
Mouth and TeethHigh palate, poor dental alignment, and small lower jaw.
NeckShort neck, possible excess skin on the neck, and a low hairline at the back of the neck.
ChestChest can appear either sunken or protruding, and some individuals may have scoliosis.
HeartProne to serious congenital heart conditions, most common is pulmonary valve stenosis. Some may have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
StatureAbout 50 to 70 percent of individuals with Noonan syndrome have short stature. At birth, the body has normal length and weight, but growth gradually slows down over time.
Abnormal HormonesAbnormal growth hormone levels, a type of protein necessary for normal bone and tissue development, may contribute to slowed growth.

Russell-Silver Syndrome

What is Russell-Silver Syndrome?

Russell-Silver Syndrome (RSS) is a congenital disorder that leads to infants being born small for gestational age and unable to achieve normal growth.

Effects of Russell-Silver Syndrome

Russell-Silver Syndrome presents with various symptoms. In most cases, this condition becomes apparent shortly after birth. Individuals affected by this syndrome typically have normal intelligence but exhibit significantly impaired growth compared to their peers of the same age.

AspectCharacteristics
WingspanShort wingspan, segment ratios above and below the arms are normal.
FingersPinky finger curves towards the fourth finger.
Facial StructureTriangular-shaped face with a prominent forehead.
SkinChanges in skin pigmentation.
BloodLow blood sugar levels, susceptible to hypoglycemia.
Digestive SystemDigestive disorders (loss of appetite, acute diarrhea, acid reflux, etc.).
HeartHeart abnormalities (congenital heart diseases, pericarditis, etc.).
StatureSmall body size at birth. Slow bone growth rate, difficulty reaching standard height for age.
AsymmetryAsymmetrical body or facial features.
Cognitive AbilitiesDelayed cognitive development in speech, actions, and overall progress.

The Effects of Russell-Silver Syndrome on the Body – Source: Healthline

In the future, achieving the ideal height will help your beloved child reach for their dreams with ease. Invest in their stature so that they don’t fall behind any of their peers. Just like any other advice, focus on proper nutrition, physical activity, and adequate sleep for your child. If you notice any signs of the mentioned conditions, take your child to a healthcare facility for monitoring and timely intervention.

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