Growth Failure

Causes of Growth Failure

Growth failure is a condition in which a child does not grow at the expected rate. This can be a result of physical, genetic and environmental factors. Some of the common causes of growth failure include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Hormonal deficiencies
  • Chronic medical conditions such as kidney disease or heart disease
  • Infections such as HIV or tuberculosis
  • Stress or emotional issues
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Genetic conditions such as Turner Syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Delayed growth plate closure

Risk Factors for Growth Failure

Growth failure can occur in any child, but some factors increase the risk. These risk factors include:

  • A low birth weight
  • Malnutrition
  • Poverty
  • Environmental toxins
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Illicit drug use
  • Being born prematurely

Diagnosis of Growth Failure

Growth failure can usually be diagnosed using physical examination and a careful review of the child's growth pattern. To more precisely diagnose growth failure, doctors may order tests to check for various conditions, such as hormone deficiencies or metabolic disorders, that could be causing the problem. Genetic testing may also be done to look for a genetic cause for the child's growth failure. These tests may include x-rays to measure bone length and hormone levels.

Treatment of Growth Failure

The treatment of growth failure depends on its underlying cause. If the cause is poor nutrition or a chronic medical condition, treatment may involve providing proper nutrition and medical treatment for the underlying condition, such as thyroid hormones for hypothyroidism or growth hormone for growth hormone deficiency. If the cause is lifestyle-related, such as drug or alcohol use, lifestyle changes may be necessary. Surgery may be necessary if the cause is due to a structural problem, such as delayed growth plate closure.