Growth failure

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] ; Associate Editor(s)-In-Chief: Aditya Govindavarjhulla, M.B.B.S. [2]


Growth failure is a medical term for a pattern of a child's growth which is poorer than normal for age, sex, stage of maturation, and genetic height expectation. In general it refers to;

  • A slow growth velocity, and
  • Stunted growth

Growth failure usually has an abnormal cause or causes. Many short children are growing normally and this is not referred to as growth failure.

Linear growth is measured by change of recumbent length in infants until age 2 to 3 years, when a child's height can be measured standing.

Growth failure is a term used to describe failure to grow in length. Growth is a dynamic process that starts before a child is born and continues until the bones fuse after puberty. After puberty, bones continue to mature to achieve prime bone density.Growth in length per year is age dependent and may be affected by many different factors including, but not limited to; hormonal abnormalities, chronic illness, and genetic abnormalities. Failure to grow should be taken seriously as it may indicate a hidden illness, a pediatrician should be consulted if a child is exhibiting slow growth outside of the ranges shown below. All ranges described are averages for the age range. In addition, to rate of growth,the position of the child on the growth chart (which compares other children of the same age) should be observed.

Doctors and families can follow the progress of the children to make sure that they are achieving their appropriate potential.


Common Causes [1] [2]

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Atrioventricular septal defect , BlandGarlandWhite syndrome , Congenital heart disease, Cor Triatriatum , Double outlet right ventricle , Endocardial fibroelastosis , Fallot's tetralogy, Patent ductus arteriosus, Transposition of great arteries , Ventricular septal defect
Chemical / poisoning Lead poisoning
Dermatologic Leiner Disease
Drug Side Effect Fetal Hydantoin Syndrome , Fetal thalidomide syndrome , Fetal warfarin syndrome , Prednisolone, Albuterol, Aspirin, Carboplatin, Dexamethasone Acetate, Lasix, Lisinopril, Paxil, Protonix, Revlimid, Tylenol, Zoloft
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine Adiposogenital dystrophy, Adrenal hyperplasia, congenital type 3 , Adrenomyodystrophy , C21 hydroxylase deficiency, Cushing's syndrome , Cystic fibrosis , Diabetes mellitus, Glucocorticoid deficiency, Growth hormone deficiency, Hyperthyroidism, Hypoaldosteronism, Hypopituitarism , Hypothyroidism, KaplowitzBodurtha syndrome , Pseudohypoparathyroidism , Thyroid disease
Environmental Lead poisoning
Gastroenterologic Autoimmune enteropathy , Baber's syndrome , Bile acid synthesis defects , Blind loop syndrome , Chronic diarrhoea, Congenital short bowel , Congenital Vitamin B12 Malabsorption , Glucosegalactose malabsorption , Hirschsprung's disease , Malabsorption syndrome, Microvillus Inclusion Disease , Pseudoobstruction idiopathic intestinal
Genetic 14q+ syndrome , 18 Hydroxylase deficiency , 18p minus syndrome , 1q deletion , 2q deletion , 3M syndrome , 3q deletion , 49,XXXXX syndrome , 4p16.3 deletion , Aarskog syndrome , Aase syndrome, Abetalipoproteinaemia, ACAD8 deficiency , Adiposogenital dystrophy, Alagille Syndrome , AlbersSchonberg disease , Albright's hereditary osteodystrophy , AlphaLiduronidase deficiency, Alport Syndrome , Alports syndrome, Alsing syndrome , Aminomethyltransferase deficiency, Andersen disease , Anorexia nervosa, Arginase deficiency , Aspartoacylase deficiency, BardetBiedl syndrome, Barth syndrome , Bloom's syndrome, BonnetDechaumeBlanc syndrome, BowenConradi syndrome , BRESHECK syndrome, Byler Disease , CAH, CAMFAK syndrome , Campomelic dwarfism , Carnitine transporter deficiency , Carnosinase deficiency , Carpenter syndrome , CHARGE syndrome, Chromosome 1 uniparental disomy 1q12 q21 , Chromosome 10 ring syndrome , Chromosome 10, distal trisomy 10q , Chromosome 10p deletion syndrome , Chromosome 11q duplication syndrome , Chromosome 12 ring syndrome , Chromosome 12p deletion , Chromosome 13 ring syndrome , Chromosome 13 trisomy syndrome , Chromosome 14 Ring , Chromosome 14 trisomy , Chromosome 15 trisomy , Chromosome 16p, partial duplication , Chromosome 17 ring , Chromosome 18 Ring , Chromosome 19 ring syndrome , Chromosome 1p deletion syndrome , Chromosome 2 trisomy syndrome , Chromosome 20 ring , Chromosome 20p deletion syndrome , Chromosome 21 monosomy , Chromosome 22, trisomy , Chromosome 2p deletion syndrome , Chromosome 2p duplication syndrome , Chromosome 3, trisomy 3p , Chromosome 3, trisomy 3q , Chromosome 4 Ring , Chromosome 4 ring syndrome , Chromosome 5, trisomy 5q , Chromosome 5p duplication syndrome , Chromosome 5p tetrasomy syndrome , Chromosome 6 ring syndrome , Chromosome 6, monosomy 6q , Chromosome 6, trisomy 6q , Chromosome 7 ring syndrome , Chromosome 8 recombinant syndrome , Chromosome 9 trisomy syndrome , Chromosome 9, trisomy , Classic galactosemia , Cleft palate, Cockayne syndrome, CoffinLowry syndrome, Cohen Syndrome , Complement 5 deficiency, Complete Trisomy 18 syndrome , Complex 5 mitochondrial respiratory chain deficiency , Congenital chloride diarrhea , ConradiHuenermann Syndrome , Corpus callosum agenesis , Criduchat syndrome , De Barsy syndrome, DiamondBlackfan anemia , DiGeorge syndrome , Down syndrome, Edward Syndrome , Faciocardiorenal syndrome, Fallot's tetralogy, Farber's disease , Filippi syndrome, Forbes disease , Francois dyscephalic syndrome , Fucosidosis, Galactosemia , GAPO syndrome , Glucosegalactose malabsorption , HoyeraalHreidarsson syndrome , ICF syndrome , Iduronate sulphatase deficiency, Inborn amino acid metabolism disorder , Inborn urea cycle disorder , Infantile dysphagia , Infantile hypophosphatasia , Infantile Refsum Disease , IPEX syndrome , Ivemark Syndrome , Jeune's thoracic dystrophy syndrome, JirasekZuelzerWilson syndrome , JohansonBlizzard syndrome, JubergMarsidi syndrome , Kabuki makeup syndrome, Kartagener's syndrome, KennyCaffeyLinarelli syndrome, Kowarski syndrome , Leigh syndrome , Leprechaunism, LeriWeill dyschondrosteosis, Lissencephaly , Lowe oculocerebrorenal syndrome , Lowe Syndrome , LutzRichnerLandolt syndrome , Maple syrup urine disease, MardenWalker syndrome, Martsolf syndrome, Menkes Disease , Miescher's syndrome , Mitochondrial diseases, MULIBREY Nanism , Multiple lentigines syndrome, Navajo neurohepatopathy , Neuronal Migration Disorders , Nezelof Syndrome , NiemannPick disease , NOMID syndrome , Omenn syndrome , Opitz trigonocephaly syndrome, Osteogenesis imperfecta, Otopalatodigital syndrome, Pearson's anemia , PelizaeusMerzbacher disease, Phenylketonuria , Pierre Robin's sequence , PittRogersDanks syndrome, Pompe disease , PowellBuistStenzel syndrome , PraderWilli syndrome , Progeroid syndrome, Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis, RussellSilver dwarfism, SaethreChotzen Syndrome , SCID , Seckle syndrome , Sheffield syndrome , ShwachmanDiamond Syndrome , Sickle Cell Anemia , Silver's syndrome, SingletonMerten Syndrome , TaySachs disease, Thyroid agenesis , Transposition of great arteries , Trisomy 18 Syndrome , Turner syndrome , Tyrosinemia , VATER association , Velocardiofacial syndrome, Von Gierke disease , WAGR Syndrome , Watson syndrome , Williams syndrome, Wittwer sydnrome , WolcottRallison syndrome , YunisVaron syndrome, ZAP70 deficiency
Hematologic Fanconi syndrome , Acanthocytosis , Agammaglobulinemia, alymphocytotic type , Angiofollicular lymph hyperplasia , Athymia, Bare lymphocyte syndrome , CMLLike Syndrome, Familial , Haemoglobin E disease, Hemophagocytic reticulosis , Histiocytosis X, Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis , Severe combined immunodeficiency , Thalassemia
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease AIDS , Ascariasis, Chronic urinary tract infections, Chronic viral infection, Congenital syphilis , Congenital tuberculosis , Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Parasite infestation, Tuberculosis
Musculoskeletal / Ortho Cantu syndrome, CareyFinemanZiter syndrome, Osteopetrosis with renal tubular acidosis , BallerGerold syndrome, FreemanSheldon Syndrome postnatal growth deficiency, Phocomelia syndrome
Neurologic HoyeraalHreidarsson syndrome , Ramon syndrome, Rieger Syndrome , Agyria , Alpers Syndrome , Cerebral palsy, Crome syndrome, Diencephalic Syndrome , Encephaloceles , Frynsvan den Berghe syndrome, Gangliosidosis, Hooft disease growth delay
Nutritional / Metabolic GraeckImerslund disease , Abetalipoproteinaemia, Anorexia nervosa, Forbes disease , Fucosidosis, Galactosemia , Menkes Diseas, , Osteomalacia, Rumination disorder , Food intolerances, Heiner syndrome , 3methylglutaconic aciduria, type 4 , 4Alphahydroxyphenylpyruvate hydroxylase deficiency , 4hydroxyphenylpyruvate hydroxylase deficiency, Acrodermatitis enteropathica , AcylCoA dehydrogenase deficiency , Adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency , Arterial occlusive disease, Chylomicron retention disease, Cystinosis , Dietary deficiencies, Gaucher's disease, GlutarylCoA dehydrogenase deficiency , Glycerol kinase deficiency, GRACILE syndrome, Gylcogen storage disease, Hemosiderosis , Hurler syndrome , Icell disease, Kwashiorkor, Lipoproteine lipase deficiency , Marasmus , MELAS, Methylmalonic acidemia , Nutritional deficiency , Zinc deficiency
Obstetric/Gynecologic Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, HSV
Oncologic Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia , Leukemia
Opthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose / Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric No underlying causes
Pulmonary Asthma, Bronchiectasis, Congenital pulmonary alveolar proteinosis , Pulmonary veins stenosis
Renal / Electrolyte Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus , Aspartylglucosaminuria, Bartter Syndrome , Chronic renal failure, Classic Distal Renal Tubular Acidosis , Hypophosphatasia , Renal failure, LightwoodAlbright syndrome , Nephrotic syndrome, Primary tubular proximal acidosis
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Crohn's disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Majeed syndrome , Celiac disease
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma No underlying causes
Urologic No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Miscellaneous Abnormal feeding habits, Child abuse, Neglect, Starvation

Causes in Alphabetical Order


  1. Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  2. Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X

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