A child who has short stature is much shorter than children who are the same age and sex. All causes of short stature fall into one of three major categories: chronic disease (for example, malnutrition), familial short stature, or constitutional delay of growth and development ("late bloomers").
Although rare, endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism or growth hormone deficiency also cause growth failure. Short stature is commonly associated with genetic diseases, such as Down syndrome or Turner syndrome.
Some symptoms may signal a medical condition causing short stature:
· Child has stopped growing or is growing slower than expected (less than 4 cm, or 2 in, each year in the pre-pubertal child of elementary school age)
· Weight loss or gain (more than 5 lbs in a month)
· Poor nutrition/loss of appetite
· Delayed puberty (absent breast development by age 14 or absent menstrual spotting by age 15 for a girl or absent enlargement of the testes by age 14 for a boy); note that the presence or absence of pubic hair is not a reliable sign of pubertal development