Stunting is a term used to describe children who do not gain weight or height over a period of time. It is also applied to children who are below the 3rd percentile for their age and based on standard medical growth charts.
When stunting is caused by medical problems it is called organic stunting. The main causes are: intestinal malabsorption syndromes, renal diseases, chronic infections, endocrinological diseases, neoplasms and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases.
However, 80% of the children who come to a pediatrician’s office with this pathology do not have a specific medical problem. In these cases they are called non-organic growth retardation and occur in situations where there is inadequate food intake or a lack of psycho-affective stimuli, very frequent in adopted children.
Symptoms of stunting
Although each child may experience them differently, the most common symptoms are: lack of weight or height gain, irritability, fatigue for no apparent reason, excessive sleepiness, lack of age-appropriate social response, avoidance of eye contact, lack of adaptation to the mother’s body, failure to emit verbal sounds or delayed motor development.
If these symptoms appear, an experienced pediatrician should be consulted for a diagnosis.
Solution to growth retardation
After cessation or appropriate treatment of the cause that produced the period of growth inhibition, a period of rapid linear growth that returns the child to its original growth channel is common. This is called catch-up growth.
However, when the cause has been of significant severity or duration or has occurred at a critical developmental period (during the first three years of life), recovery may not be complete. Hence the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
Source: article based on the doctor’s experience and professional trajectory.