Childhood 'Growth' Tests Not Always Necessary

From Drugs.com - October 6, 2017

Childhood 'Growth' Tests Not Always Necessary

FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2017 -- Just because a child is not growing or developing exactly like his or her peers does not mean a host of medical tests are in order.

In fact, five medical tests commonly ordered for children who are short, overweight or showing signs of early puberty are not always necessary. And, that's particularly true if youngsters are otherwise healthy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The five tests include hormone tests, endocrine tests, vitamin D screening, thyroid or insulin tests for overweight children and thyroid ultrasounds for kids with an enlarged thyroid gland or autoimmune thyroid disease, the group noted.

Doctors and their patients should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of these procedures, advised Dr. Paul Kaplowitz in an AAP news release. He's past chairperson of the AAP Section on Endocrinology.

"As a pediatric endocrinologist, I have counseled many parents who are worried about their children's growth," Kaplowitz said.

"There is a wide range of what is 'normal' for child growth and development. If a child is otherwise healthy and is following their own curve, what the parents often need is reassurance that their child is fine, and not a lot of testing," he said.

The AAP compiled a list of the five commonly used procedures, urging doctors to use evidence-based strategies when ordering these tests.

Hormone tests, for example, may be unnecessary for children with pubic hair or body odor but no other physical signs of puberty, such as a growth spurt or breast development.

Screening tests for endocrine disorders are unlikely to benefit children with a normal growth rate, according to the AAP.


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