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Does your child seem much shorter – or much taller – than other kids his or her age? It could be normal. Some children may be small for their age but still be developing normally. Some children are short or tall because their parents are.
But some children have growth disorders. Growth disorders are problems that prevent children from developing normal height, weight, sexual maturity or other features.
Very slow or very fast growth can sometimes signal a gland problem or disease.
The pituitary gland makes growth hormone, which stimulates the growth of bone and other tissues. Children who have too little of it may be very short. Treatment with growth hormone can stimulate growth.
People can also have too much growth hormone. Usually the cause is a pituitary gland tumor, which is not cancer. Too much growth hormone can cause gigantism in children, where their bones and their body grow too much. In adults, it can cause acromegaly, which makes the hands, feet and face larger than normal. Possible treatments include surgery to remove the tumor, medicines, and radiation therapy.
Laron syndrome is a rare form of short stature that results from the body’s inability to use growth hormone, a substance produced by the brain’s pituitary gland that helps promote growth. Affected individuals are close to normal size at birth, but they experience slow growth from early childhood that results in very short stature. If the condition is not treated, adult males typically reach a maximum height of about 4.5 feet; adult females may be just over 4 feet tall.Other features of untreated Laron syndrome include reduced muscle strength and endurance, low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) in infancy, small genitals and delayed puberty, hair that is thin and fragile, and dental abnormalities. Many affected individuals have a distinctive facial appearance, including a protruding forehead, a sunken bridge of the nose (saddle nose), and a blue tint to the whites of the eyes (blue sclerae). Affected individuals have short limbs compared to the size of their torso, as well as small hands and feet. Adults with this condition tend to develop obesity. However, the signs and symptoms of Laron syndrome vary, even among affected members of the same family.Studies suggest that people with Laron syndrome have a significantly reduced risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Affected individuals appear to develop these common diseases much less frequently than their unaffected relatives, despite having obesity (a risk factor for both cancer and type 2 diabetes). However, people with Laron syndrome do not seem to have an increased lifespan compared with their unaffected relatives.