Height to health: Monitoring your child’s growth for better development
Novo Nordisk

Height to health: Monitoring your child’s growth for better development

“Nasa lahi na namin ang pagiging maliit!”

Have you heard this comment among families before? According to the World Population Review, the average male Filipino height is 5ft 5in, and the average female Filipino height is 5ft 1in. (1)

While genes have a direct impact on a person’s height, this does not mean that parents have to leave their child’s growth and development to nature. Sometimes, short stature and inadequate growth can be serious health problems that need attention.

Take Maia’s experience with her son Matt.

“I suspected my son had a growth hormone deficiency. When he was younger, compared to his cousins, he was the smallest. I kept wondering, ‘why is my child so small?”

Matt’s short stature worried Maia, so she sought information on proper diagnosis and treatment to address the possible underlying reason for her son’s height and weight problem, so it wouldn’t negatively affect his personal, psychological, and emotional growth. In Matt’s case, as an aspiring football player, his stunted growth prevented him from being picked for his school’s varsity team.

Growth-related problems

Stunting as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) is the impaired growth and development experienced by children due to poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Stunting is a tenacious problem in the Philippines affecting 3 out of 10 Filipino children below five years old. The problem of stunting has a potential to break one’s future as it also affects cognitive development of children. (2)

Global health company Novo Nordisk is one organization that helps shed light on this problem through their awareness and action campaigns. One such initiative is the awareness talk hosted on Kalingang Novo Nordisk. A series of informative webinars hosted on the organization’s Facebook page, Kalingang Novo Nordisk (KNN) continuously aims to raise awareness on different chronic diseases that Filipinos suffer from.

This latest KNN: Usapang Kalusugan episode on growth deficiency, titled ‘Tangkad at Kalusugan, Magkaugnay Ba?’ was held for Growth Awareness Week last September 2021. The webinar featured Pediatric Endocrinologist Dr. Lalaine Audrey Untalan of Mother Teresa of Calcutta Medical Center Pampanga, and Dr. John Uy of Cebu Doctors Hospital.

“Lack of nutrition and healthy foods are common reasons for slow growth among children,” explained Dr. Untalan. “Most of the time, inadequate growth is a manifestation of other health problems like growth hormone deficiency. To avoid these circumstances, we encourage everyone to make a habit of measuring and recording their children’s height and weight development.”

Dr. Uy noted also that as children’s bodies grow and develop, parents “need to monitor these developments periodically.”

“Pediatricians have a growth chart that tracks a child’s height and weight development from birth to 36 months,” he added.

For Maia’s son Matt, he was indeed diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency.

“Growth hormones are produced by the pituitary gland. This hormone will go to the liver to stimulate another hormone called insulin growth factor one (IGF1). IGF1 will go through the cartilage and mature the cartilage and bones. When there is a problem at the pituitary level, there’s no stimulation for IGF1 to the bones and cartilages. It will not grow and the child will present short stature,” Dr. Uy explained.

Growth hormones play an essential role in children’s growth, muscle and bone strength, and fat distribution. It also regulates their blood sugar and fat levels. Growth hormone deficiency can cause children of the same age and gender to grow slowly and to be shorter than other children of the same age and gender. (3)

Treating growth hormone deficiency

“The longer you leave inadequate growth untreated, the more you lose potential height,” warned Dr. Uy during the webinar, which is replayable on Novo Nordisk’s official social media page.

Maia knew that Matt’s short stature should be addressed. She met with a physician and discussed her son’s condition.

“After 6 months, you can see the difference. Matt became the same as my height and then we had growth hormone treatment for a year. Then afterwards, you can really see the difference. He became so tall! Matt is more confident right now,” Maia happily remarked. “He was given the opportunity to be on the varsity team. Aside from that, he was part of the NCR team. They were champions! He was awarded the most improved player. For me, it’s very rewarding to see your child happy.”

 

Innovations for your child’s growth

Parents need to know that a child’s height is an indicator of health and development. To further support and provide parents with information, Novo Nordisk continues to conduct awareness-raising activities around and provide solutions for growth hormone deficiency in the Philippines, even utilizing innovations to complement these efforts.

To help parents monitor and track their child’s growth and development, Novo Nordisk recently launched the Growth Journey App. The app measures, records, and tracks your child’s growth and gives you a visual record book of their development. It’s a convenient way to know your child’s growth pattern and quickly recognize a situation that calls for a doctor’s attention.

The Growth Journey App is available in Android and iOS. Here are the steps to access the app:

Step 1 Download: Download the app for Android or iOS.

Step 2 Measure: Take a picture of your child with the built-in automatic height measurement tool.

Step 3 Record: The growth book gives you a visual historical record of all measurements made in the app.

Step 4 Track: Follow your child’s measurement on a growth chart to monitor their development.

Download the Growth Journey App to track your child’s progress today. And if you’d like to know more about growth hormone deficiency and get resources about this condition, visit the Novo Nordisk PH Facebook Page or More Than Height: Answering your questions about child growth.

Growth Journey App

References:

  1. World Population Review. Retrieved from: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/average-height-by-country. Accessed on October 7, 2021.
  2. National Nutrition Council. Retrieved from: https://www.nnc.gov.ph/regional-offices/mindanao/region-x-northern-mindanao/4039-debunking-filipino-myths-on-height-and-stunting. Accessed on October 7, 2021.
  3. Hormone Health Network. Retrieved from: https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/growth-hormone-deficiency. Accessed on October 7, 2021.

 

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