Beirut, 2 March 2017: The success of years of awareness outreaches stressing that assessment of a child’s height and weight sheds light on their general health and well-being1 has led the Lebanese Pediatric Endocrinology Club and Novo Nordisk to call on parents to seek specialized diagnosis should their child be suspected of growth disorders.
“While it’s essential to measure and plot your child’s development to monitor for potential growth disorders during every pediatrician visit, it’s also vital to ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist for comprehensive diagnosis before proceeding with invasive tests or treatments that are often being administered unnecessarily,” said Dr. Wissam Fayad, Coordinator of the Lebanese Pediatric Endocrinology Club at the Lebanese Pediatric Society. “Children need to be monitored for lengthier periods of time, taking into consideration their familial height context and several other factors, to also help avoid excess unnecessary demand on treatment which is delaying access for those who actually need it.”
Growth monitoring has been part of preventive child health programs for more than a century2, and growth retardation is recognized as a relatively early sign of poor health2.
While short stature is not always a cause for concern, in some children, growth stagnation could signal problems that potentially include serious health disorders,3-5 which can be difficult to identify because a child’s growth is often only monitored until the age of two according to the Lebanese Pediatric Endocrinology Club.
“Novo Nordisk is proud that our joint efforts with the Lebanese Pediatric Endocrinology Club over the years have generated enough awareness for parents to become more vigilant about their children’s growth and development,” said Stathis Psimmenos, Novo Nordisk Lebanon General Manager.
“We are also very happy to be evolving the key message of our annual reminder campaign to reflect the developing need for further inquiry before any invasive tests or action are taken to stimulate growth.”
This year’s campaign also involves collaboration with children’s celebrity Ghinwa, whose latest play “The Garden of Dreams” features an informative sketch urging parents to monitor their children’s growth, and provides educational leaflets to all attendees.
The Lebanese Pediatric Endocrinology Club recommends the plotting of a child’s growth on a chart twice a year in order for a pediatrician to detect any deviation, in which case parents need to ensure diagnosis by a specialist should endocrine issues be suspected before proceeding with blood tests, bone age determination and other tests.
Underlying Conditions of Growth Abnormalities:
The optimal growth of an individual depends on genetic and environmental factors and is influenced by prenatal as well as postnatal growth. Prenatal growth factors include maternal age, parity, alcohol consumption, drug addiction, smoking, therapeutic medication, climate, altitude, and malnutrition. Postnatal growth is affected by nutrition, socioeconomic factors, disease, urbanization, psychosocial stress, and physical activity.6
If a child is failing to grow due to an underlying medical problem, his or her visible growth failure means that other more serious things are going on inside the body. Height is simply an early signal for parents to take their child to the physician.
Normal height growth rates vary according to age. The Lebanese Pediatric Endocrinology Club advises that children during the first year of life should grow 24 cm. During the second, growth slows to an average of 11 cm. During the third, growth averages 8 cm. From age four until puberty, growth should be at least 5-6 cm/year. Pubertal changes prompt a growth spurt of around 9 cm/year usually starting by the age of 10 for girls and 12 for boys.