What is short stature?

Short stature is a condition in which your child’s height is much lower than expected for his age and sex. This is determined by plotting your child’s height on the growth chart. The pediatrician or endocrinologist (hormone doctor) will go over the growth chart with you and your child. The doctor will also consider the rate at which your child is growing. Children who grow at a much slower rate than their peers will eventually end up being shorter than their peers.

What are the causes of short stature?

The most common cause of short stature is familial, meaning that the child is short because the parents are short. Another very common cause is being a late bloomer, a condition in which children grow along the lower height percentiles until puberty, which is typically somewhat delayed, and then eventually catch-up.

Other causes of poor growth and/or short stature include genetic conditions, hormonal disorders, suboptimal food intake, gastrointestinal conditions that reduce absorption of food from the gut, inflammatory conditions, conditions affecting the heart or kidneys, and certain medications (including high doses of glucocorticoids such as hydrocortisone, prednisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone among others).

Rev. 7/2019. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.