Delayed growth

Delayed growth

I just turned sixteen. My problem is that I’m much too short. No use telling me that I’m not through growing; I’m afraid I will stay short my whole life. Are there tests that could let me know if I will grow, and by how many centimetres? Do you think that my doctor would agree to prescribe growth hormones for me? Please reassure me, time may be working against me!

As a physician for adults, I must admit that I have little experience with growth problems, so I thought it wise to consult colleagues in pediatric endocrinology. Through our discussions, I learned that the maximum definitive size reached by a given individual depends on several factors. The first factor is heredity: if your parents and grandparents are not tall people, your chances of being tall are reduced. The second factor is the endocrine (hormonal) status. Young individuals with cystic fibrosis, like other young people, may be deficient in certain hormones, particularly thyroid and growth hormones. These deficiencies are not very common and can certainly be eliminated, because there are specific, effective treatments to remedy them (hormone supplements).

Moreover, we find that among people with cystic fibrosis, delayed growth is most frequently associated with malnutrition and poorly controlled chronic infection. These two factors can delay sexual maturation and bone growth, two components of development which are closely related. Malnutrition and chronic infection are also tied to the optimal treatment of cystic fibrosis itself; I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of strict adherence to daily treatment. In certain cases, it may be necessary to accelerate sexual maturation and bone growth through the use of sex hormones.

As far as your own situation is concerned, you need to find out which of these factors has delayed your growth. The pediatrician at your clinic is in the best position to conduct this evaluation. If necessary, he or she can consult an endocrinologist. After blood tests and X-rays, the most appropriate (but not necessarily hormonal) treatment can be applied.

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