The Differences Between Stunting & Growth Failure

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The Differences Between Stunting & Growth Failure
Children grow at different rates, but at times growth may become a problem in some individuals. (Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Stunted growth and growth failure are two terms for describing a child's difficulty in reaching the full height and weight for his age range. Stunting generally refers to stunted growth, where the body's height isn't fully reached. Growth failure, on the other hand, accounts for height and weight.

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Stunted Growth

With stunted growth, the body seems to delay growth in height because of a problem happening internally or externally. Many times, children who suffer from stunted growth have difficulty secreting enough growth hormone through the pituitary gland, indicating a problem with hormonal production. This condition isn't always the case, but doctors usually monitor it in individuals with stunted growth.

Growth Failure

With growth failure, if a child is not in the recommended height or weight range for her age, then it is a sign that the child may be experiencing growth failure. Children grow at different rates, so if a child isn't in her recommended development range, it doesn't necessarily mean she is experiencing a life or death emergency. During a general physical examination, a qualified paediatrician can assess this situation.

Factors That Influence Both

The main factors, nutrition and exercise, are major driving forces behind adolescent growth and development. Without the proper nutrients, like vitamins A, C, E and D, as well as calcium, chromium and zinc, a child will not grow to his fullest extent. Also, a child needs plenty of calories to fulfil the energy requirements for proper development and growth. Exercise is another major factor, as physical activity boosts the pituitary gland's ability to produce growth hormone, a hormone needed to elongate bones and muscles. Getting enough sleep is a factor in regulating healthy levels of growth hormone. Stress may be a component in growth failure and stunted growth in some children.

Reversing Stunted Growth and Growth Failure

Depending on the child's age, it may not be possible to fully reverse either condition. However, it is never too late to start improving nutrition or physical activity requirements. Taking a multivitamin, as well as eating foods with protein; calcium; and vitamins K, A and C can help in bone synthesis, strengthening and growth. Increasing exercise will boost growth hormone production, and will also help apply the stress needed on the bones to grow. If a child is developing slowly due to a pituitary gland dysfunction, then oftentimes doctors give medication to the child to combat these effects.

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