January 22, 2005
Mental Health, Other
Question from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA:
My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was five. He is now 15. I have become concerned with his growth because he complains daily about being shorter than everyone in his age group. He’s only 5 feet, 2 inches and he’s always been in the 5th percentile on the growth charts since he was an infant. My doctor requested a Bone-Age x-ray today and is running tests to see how much longer he has “to grow.” If, because of this diabetes, his height has been stunted and his bone age says we are out of time, is there a reversal or anything we can do to help him get even a little taller? He is already depressed about having diabetes anyway and he is so sad about being so short. Also, I wish that the doctors along the way would have STRESSED how important growth and diabetes are, as how they actually go hand-in-hand. I have learned a lot from reading on the Internet, but because I’ve been told to “wait and see” all this time, now we might have “waited too long” and may be out of time.
I hope that I can reassure you about several things. First of all, if, indeed, your son has been essentially following his growth curve (whether that is the 5, 15, 25, 50, etc. percentile), and maintained this channel of growth without dramatic “falling off” of his curve, then it is unlikely that there is anything seriously affecting his growth in height adversely, including diabetes. That said, you have not provided some important information including: Has your son generally been in good or poor glycemic control? How tall are his mother and father? Is your 15 year old in puberty? Most boys are really near the end of their growth if they are shaving! If your son is 5 feet, 2 inches, now, at age 15 years, he may have a couple of years left to grow, depending on the bone age. The 5th percentile for an adult man in the U.S. is about 5 feet, 5inches.
The bone maturation x-ray will be able to guide your son’s endocrinologist as to whether there is still “room in which to grow” and the likelihood as to whether anything can or should be done. Based on the boy’s parents’ heights, your endocrinologist can also provide you a genetic target of your sons and daughters together.