What are causes and hallmarks of short stature?

Updated: Jan 06, 2021
  • Author: Sunil Kumar Sinha, MD; Chief Editor: Robert P Hoffman, MD  more...
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Answer

The causes of short stature can be divided into 3 broad categories: chronic disease (including undernutrition genetic disorders), familial short stature, and constitutional delay of growth and development. Endocrine diseases are rare causes of short stature (see Frequency). The hallmark of endocrine disease is linear GF that occurs to a greater degree than weight loss. Most short children evaluated by clinicians in developed countries have familial short stature, constitutional growth delay, or both. Short stature and constitutional growth delay are diagnoses of exclusion.

The hallmarks of familial short stature (also referred to as genetic short stature) include bone age appropriate for chronologic age, normal growth velocity, and predicted adult height appropriate to the familial pattern (using the Bayley-Pinneau or Tanner-Goldstein-Whitehouse tables). By contrast, constitutional growth delay is characterized by delayed bone age, normal growth velocity, and predicted adult height appropriate to the familial pattern (see image below).

Comparison of the growth patterns between idiopath Comparison of the growth patterns between idiopathic short stature and constitutional growth delay.

Patients with constitutional growth delay typically have a first-degree or second-degree relative with constitutional growth delay (eg, menarche reached when older than 15 y, adult height attained in male relatives when older than 18 y).


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