★diagnosis •treatment •prevention


What is Slow growth (in children)?

Synonyms: growth and delayed development, stunted growth, slow rate of growth in children

Slow growth occurs when the child grows less than expected. There is a pattern of growth (height / weight / BMI) which is evaluated by your pediatrician on a chart and monitoring in all queries. There is a pattern of common growth for children was measured by some international institutions and serves as a parameter for pediatricians, measuring weight, height and BMI of the child at each visit. Children with changes in their growth as slow growth, should be investigated from the clinical point of view, to be assessed how much of this difference is normal or not.


The symptoms that accompany the slow growth vary widely depending on the severity of the condition. obvious changes found, for example, in bad chromosomal, endocrine or bone formation, are soon diagnosed early.

When it comes to slight decrease of growth compared to the general population, it is only possible to make this diagnosis in monthly follow-ups, when it made a "stature curve design" decrescendo.


In general, diseases may be the cause of slow growth in children. Among them, we can list:

  • Anemia
  • infections
  • cardiac abnormalities
  • Allergies, especially food.

In addition, factors such as genetics, diet and other lifestyle conditions may be the cause for the slow growth in children.

Risk factors

The growth rate is defined by various factors, which can be divided into two types:

intrauterine factors

During pregnancy genetic inheritance brings fixed characters as eye color, skin color and also features in relation to family illnesses (atopic diseases, heart disease, obesity, cancer). Within a family group people get sick the same way. In a family of asthmatics have increased likelihood of children with asthma, and so with the other genetic inheritance of disease.

In addition, during pregnancy it is important to mother's care with regard to rest, adequate exercise, diet. Especially important not to consume alcohol and have little trans fat intake. These are controllable factors.

But some intrauterine factors are outside the mother's control, such as the following:

  • chromosomal syndromes involving the fetus
  • endocrine changes: as pituitary dwarfism (Growth hormone production by the pituitary deficiency) and Turner syndrome in girls (defect sex chromosome)
  • congenital syndromes, eg achondroplasia, which prevents the growth of long bones, known as dwarfs.

In such cases, the child can not develop their potential, leading to lower final height.

extrauterinos factors

They are those that occur after birth, and may include:

  • delivery condition as neonatal anoxia, prematurity, in which the child has a developmental delay, but reaches normal values ​​for age more forward
  • Breastfeeding problems
  • adequate nutrition in early childhood
  • Lack of exercise
  • Environment without privations
  • Chronic diseases
  • Medications, such as cortisone
  • Recurrent infections.

They can interfere with the final growth of the child.

Diagnosis and Examinations

Seeking medical help

As the slow growth will only be detected when the child goes regularly to the pediatrician, it is important for parents to this cycle, to diagnose not only slow growth, but any other child health problem.

Brazilian families, the busy life, parents' work, end up using much the Emergency Room and so end up losing routine follow-ups of their children.

The recommended frequency for consultations is:

  • Monthly up to 12 months
  • Then at 15 and 18 months
  • Between two and four years, two visits per year.

This is routine for one to detect early, not only slow growth, but other changes preventable with early diagnosis.

Parents should not take into account, in order to realize the problem, the comparison of your child's height when the other children, because they have different origins. Even the comparison between brothers is valid for various factors.


Slow growth of diagnosis (in children)

To monitor not only the growth of the child but also the child's weight, there are weight and height tables. Until 2006 the table used was the CDC (Center for Disease Control), an American curve. But American child has greater weight than the Brazilian up to two years, by different factors. In 2006 an organization based in Geneva, Who Child, prepared a table where we used data collected from five cities in five continents (except for the East), including Brazil, preparing a table with broader values ​​and more adapted to our reality.

This monitoring is done in routine visits to the pediatrician: the first year of life these consultations are monthly, then at 15 and 18 months. And between two and four years, are two queries a year. Thus, collect up a number of measures that generate a tracking curve. By tracking each month is achieved detect growth changes, more or less.

Treatment and Care

Slow growth treatment (in children)

Treatment for slow growth in children will be in accordance with the cause of the problem. For example, genetic or hereditary origin changes should be handled by an expert.




healthy lifestyle habits help prevent growth problems. Here are some of them:

  • exclusive breast feeding up to six months and alternating with regular feeding up to two years
  • Appropriate complementary feeding with little or no artificial after the sixth month
  • outdoor exercise for at least an hour a day
  • Restrict TV time, video game and computer for 30 minutes a day
  • Adequate control of chronic diseases such as bronchitis, which by the use of too much medication can compromise final height.

One should give the child the opportunity to develop the full potential that comes with it.

Sources and references

  • Dr. Isis Pezzuol Dulce, a pediatrician and homeopath (CRM-SP 39546)