Children’s growth: what’s normal, what’s not

Growth rates: what’s normal?

My five-year-old son is extremely puny, unlike his nine-year-old brother, who seems normal-sized. He is otherwise active and intelligent but he doesn’t seem to respond to any kind of dietary changes as far as growing is concerned. Are there any medicines that can help my son to be in the same growth range as other kids his age?

Children come in all shapes and sizes, and even siblings can grow at different rates. Growth charts allow pediatricians to plot each child’s own rate of growth on a curve over a period of time. Growth curves are generated from growth information for thousands of children and yield “normal values” by which one compares the growth of each child. Both weight and height should be measured and plotted on the child’s growth chart at each health supervision (well-child) visit. Head circumference is measured for children until the age of two years, since head growth reflects the growth of the brain inside.

The first step would be to consult your pediatrician. Is your child abnormally small? If so, is it primarily weight or height or both? Additional information will make it clear what, if anything, needs to be done about your son.

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