Growth Pattern in Children

by Ajay
(Noida, Delhi, India)

Dear Doctor, over last 2yr. I have noted discrepancy in height gain of my 7yr. old son.

He had gained almost 10 cm from March'2010- March'2011. But he gained only 4 cm from April'2011-March'2012. He turned 7 years in June'2012.

Do you see this as a normal growth pattern in children of this age group or there could be a cause for concern?

Please provide your valuable feedback. Regards, Ajay

Information added by the expert, Ren Chats


Hi Ajay,
I can understand your concern, but unfortunately the data presented here is inadequate for me to precisely conclude that the concerned male child is suffering from any disorder or not: It seems you are taking height of your son once a year when it is required by the schools in India.

6 years of age onward is the slow growth phase. It ends when the pubertal growth spurt sets in. It is called middle childhood phase of development.

Good news for you

During this phase the height gain comes in small spurts, when child gains total of 6-7cm. per year. This amounts to total height gain of 14cm. in 2yr, which your child has gained.

Possible reasons for discrepancy in two years height gain

1. Irregular growth spurts; as I mentioned earlier.
To read more on "Growth Spurts" click here..

2. Error in previous years measurement, which has got corrected this year.

3. If there was no error in measurment of two heights, then in the second year there could have been "catch down growth" to keep child's height with in the normal limits.

Factors that affect height gain

1. Child's own height right from height at birth and the inherited growth potential. - In your case I neither know your child's height nor the percentile he falls in.

2. Any sickness suffered during the phase of concern:
Even frequent small episodes of sickness can slow down growth process during that period. - I do not have any data on this either.

3. Psychological stress can also lead to growth variations.
Most people do not associate stress with childhood, but these are very important formative years.

Change of class, school or residence, birth of a sibling, inability to meet scholastic expatations of parents and teachers, strict disciplining, sickness in the family and conflicts in family relationships are some of the triggers. Moreover peers start gaining importance in this phase.

Read more on "Psychosocial Development of Middle Childhood" and
"Middle Childhood Development".

4. Which percentile curve is child following?
It is important that child maintains the same curve.
Isolated readings cannot determine growth pattern of a child.
It is therefore very important to chart child's height and weight gain monthly and see if he follows the growth curve.

Read more under "Growth Charts" and print an age specific chart for your child - it is Free -Please maintain it.

5. Growth variations are possible, but again no conclusion can be drawn without growth chart of the concerned child.

What you could have done?

1. Uploaded a full picture of your son (optional if privacy was your concern).

2. Uploaded the picture of child's growth chart if you have one.

What should you do now?

Please maintain growth chart for your son for next 2 years.
If growth chart shows a dip in percentile, he will need further evaluation.

It is very important to distinguish normal growth variation from hormonal disorder before puberty sets in, which it does from 9-10yr. of age.

You have asked the question in good time. Now do follow your child's growth pattern closely on growth chart. Best wishes.

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