Growth rate is an important indicator of overall health. Children who do not reach the 5th percentile by the age of 5 years are said to be small for gestational age (SGA). A pediatrician will look out for signs of "failure to thrive."

Early intervention can prevent future problems in many cases.

Normally, at 8 years of age, a child's arm span is around the same as their height. If these measurements are out of proportion, this may be a sign of disproportionate short stature (DSS), sometimes known as "dwarfism."

Fast facts on short stature

Here are some key points about short stature. More detail is in the main article.

  • Short stature can happen for a wide range of reasons, including having small parents, malnutrition, and genetic conditions such as achondroplasia.
  • Proportionate short stature (PSS) is when the person is small, but all the parts are in the usual proportions. In disproportionate short stature (DSS), the limbs may be small compared with the trunk.
  • If short stature results from a growth hormone (GH) deficiency, GH treatment can often boost growth.
  • Some people may experience long-term medical complications, but intelligence is not usually affected.