Factors That Affect Growth

It is quite natural for parents to take their children to the park and then unconsciously comparing them with others in terms of their growth. While doing it, have you ever wondered why your child seems shorter as compared to the other kids of his/her age? It is true that weight and height are important measures of your child's health, but does this mean you should worry if your child is shorter than the kids in his/her class? To answer this, you need to learn more about the factors that affect growth. Let's do it now!

What Is Considered Normal Growth?

Growth rates change at different stages of development, with the most rapid growth happening during the first three years of your child's life. The rate becomes steady after that and continues in a less dramatic fashion until adolescence. As your child reaches adolescence, the growth rate becomes quite rapid once again. Short after that, the skeletal growth plates begin to fuse and this slows down the growth rate. Growth rate for girls is usually quicker and most girls reach their final adult height by the time they turn 16, whereas it continues until the age of 18 for boys.

While trying to figure more about factors that affect growth, it makes sense to check if your child's height and weight is within normal range. Here is the article to help you learn more about it: Child Height and Weight Chart

8 Factors That Affect Growth

A number of factors can affect the rate of growth for your child. Here are some of them:

1. Heredity

Genetics play a big role in the transmission of social and physical characteristics from parents to children. Heredity has a huge impact on different characteristics of development and growth, like aptitudes, intelligence, body structure, weight, height, and color of eyes and hair. Scientists have found that there are between 7 and 20 genes that could affect human growth and change the growth patterns of kids within the same family.

2. Socioeconomic Factors

Children from different socioeconomic levels have different growth rates, with the upper level families being more advanced. This happens mainly due to better facilities, better nutrition, exercise, and regular meals. Similarly, the growth rate may be different for large families with limited income as compared to smaller families.

3. Hormones

Endocrine glands secrete different hormones into the bloodstream that can increase or reduce the overall activity level of the body or at least some organs of the body. Any change in the secretion of these hormones will have a direct impact on growth. In the absence of certain hormones, the body cannot regulate the process of development and growth. Therefore, hormones are certainly among the factors that affect growth.

4. Nutritional Factors

Without an adequate supply of calories and nutrients, the human body cannot grow at a normal rate. What you require at different stages varies but has an impact on the overall development and growth. Many developing countries are still trying to overcome malnutrition, which has turned into a large-scale problem for them. People in these regions are more likely to be underweight and of shorter height than average. The growth process becomes deeply affected if your child is malnourished – it is mainly because children need nine different amino acids but they are not getting all of them. Any deficiency of iodine, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins may also lead to stunted growth.


5. Pollution

Air pollution can leave negative effects on the respiratory organs, which in turn can lead to stunted growth. Even the indoor pollution can make people become very ill, and this illness has a negative effect on the rate of growth. Lead exposure, for instance, can be extremely harmful for children because it enters the body and hampers the normal development of brain and other body organs. Illness is among many factors that affect growth because children who develop a serious illness in infancy are more likely to grow at a slower rate as compared to children who have been healthier in early childhood.

6. Racial Factors

Racial factors can also have an impact on weight, height, features, color, and body constitution of a person. That is the reason why a child of black race is black with the hair, height, facial structure, and eye color all governed by the same race.

7. Pituitary Tumors

Some individuals have pituitary tumors by birth, while others develop it later in their lives. These tumors can significantly slow down the growth and development rate for that person. However, the effect on the rate of growth usually depends on how the tumor affects the gland. A person will suffer from "gigantism" if a tumor on the pituitary gland triggers the production of human growth hormone.

8. Medication

Certain medications can affect the human growth patterns. Studies show that children who are on Ritalin, a drug taken for the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, experience slow growth. Kids who take these medications and some others are more likely to be lighter and shorter than children in the same age group.

When Should a Parent Worry?

It is natural to feel concerned when you suspect your child is not growing like others in the same age group, but things are not that serious most of the times. If you feel concerned, just talk to your doctor who will check where your child stands on a pediatric growth chart. You may only have to worry when a normal growth curve beings to enter the lower height percentiles.

Working with your doctor is important because sometimes simple fixes can resolve the issue. A child seems taller than others in the same age group may be indulged in overeating. Similarly, malabsorption, kidney disease, or any other serious illness can also lead to slow growth. Any problem with thyroid hormone can also have an impact on normal growth and development. Your doctor will identify these issues and suggest a treatment plan to promote proper growth.

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