Your child’s growth is more than just a pencil mark on a door frame. It’s a key indicator of their overall development. That’s why it’s important to know your child’s growth rate at every age. A slowing of growth or trending below the normal range could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as growth hormone deficiency.


Most children who experience delays in growth are healthy. But for a small number of children, certain diseases, medical conditions and even rare genetic disorders may also slow or stop a child's growth. In these instances, a child may require medication to help them grow. Below is an overview of the causes.

  • Childhood growth hormone deficiency (GHD) – A condition where the body doesn’t make enough growth hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland. Children whose bodies produce low amounts of growth hormone can experience delays in growth.
  • Noonan syndrome – A rare genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 1,000-2,500 children, both boys and girls. Children with Noonan syndrome often experience short stature as well as heart problems, delays in puberty and other health conditions. 
  • Turner syndrome – A rare genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 2,500-3,000 girls. A girl with Turner syndrome may also have short stature, ovarian failure, heart defects, and other health problems.
  • Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) – Also a rare genetic disorder, PWS affects about 1 in 10,000-30,000 boys and girls. Children with PWS may experience short stature along with increased appetite, obesity and other health conditions.
  • SHOX deficiency – A deficiency due to abnormalities in the short stature homeobox-containing (SHOX) gene that can cause short stature in children.

  • Idiopathic short stature (ISS) – A not-so-simple term used when there is no identifiable cause for a child’s short stature. When a child is very short compared to other children of the same age and other causes of short stature are ruled out, their doctor may diagnose ISS, which includes short children labeled with constitutional delay of growth and puberty (CDGP) and familial short stature (FSS). Children with ISS often remain short into adulthood.
  • Constitutional delay of growth and puberty (CDGP) – A normal type of growth where a healthy child grows and develops a bit later than other children. Typically, children with CDGP will reach an adult height that is average for their family. 
  • Familial short stature (FSS) – Another name for shortness that runs in the family. Familial short stature means that a child is short because their birth parents are short.
  • Small for gestational age (SGA) – When a baby’s birth weight and/or length falls below the 2.3rd percentile. It’s not always known why a child is born SGA, but 2 possible causes are genetic defects or the mother’s health.