Information for Patients
As children grow older, they develop in several different ways. Child development includes physical, intellectual, social, and emotional changes.
Children grow and mature at very different rates. It's hard to say what "normal" is. There can be big differences in height, weight, and build among healthy children. Diet, exercise and genes are all factors. Some children begin puberty or are close to it before they are teenagers.
Children start to become more independent from their parents. They may rebel. They also look outward - to their friends, who are usually of the same sex. Peer approval becomes very important. Your child may try new behaviors to be part of "the group." This can also be the time that parents or teachers recognize learning disabilities or behavioral problems in children. These problems can get worse as time goes on, so it is important to get help early.
Does your child seem much shorter - or much taller - than other kids his or her age? It could be normal. Some children may be small for their age but still be developing normally. Some children are short or tall because their parents are.
But some children have growth disorders. Growth disorders are problems that prevent children from developing normal height, weight, sexual maturity or other features.
Very slow or very fast growth can sometimes signal a gland problem or disease.
The pituitary gland makes growth hormone, which stimulates the growth of bone and other tissues. Children who have too little of it may be very short. Treatment with growth hormone can stimulate growth.
People can also have too much growth hormone. Usually the cause is a pituitary gland tumor, which is not cancer. Too much growth hormone can cause gigantism in children, where their bones and their body grow too much. In adults, it can cause acromegaly, which makes the hands, feet and face larger than normal. Possible treatments include surgery to remove the tumor, medicines, and radiation therapy.