Short stature refers to a height of a human being which is below typical. Whether a person is considered short depends on the context. Because of the lack of preciseness, there is often disagreement about the degree of shortness that should be called.

Short stature is a general term for people whose height is considerably below average, as compared to the height of their peers. While it can apply to adults, the term is most often used in reference to children. A child can be significantly shorter than his or her friends and still be perfectly healthy. This is particularly true if both parents are also shorter than average. Genetics is a major determinant of height.

However, short stature can indicate an underlying medical problem. In these cases, many children can grow to a normal height with proper treatment. For others, short stature may be permanent.

What Is Considered Short Stature? Doctors measure your child’s height using a growth chart. This chart shows the average height of other kids of the same age and sex. Based on guidelines set by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, children are considered to be of short stature if their height falls within the lowest two percentiles of their peer group.

Causes of Short Stature There are three major reasons for short stature: constitutional growth delay, genetics, and disease.

Constitutional growth delay Otherwise known as late bloomers, some children simply develop later than others. These kids are small for their age and often enter puberty later. However, they will continue to grow once their friends have stopped. They usually catch up by adulthood.

Genetics. If one or both parents are short, there is a strong possibility that their child will also be short. If there are no underlying medical reasons why either parent is short, their child’s short stature may be perfectly healthy.

Disease A number of diseases may cause unusually short stature. These diseases fall into several categories.

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