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Childhood growth and development: Xanit Health

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in Xanit salud | Posted on 20-03-2013

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During the first two years of their lives, children develop and grow at a dizzying rate.  By the age of 12-15 months, the majority have already learned to walk, they begin eat a wider variety of solid foods, and they start to sleep for longer periods of time (to the relief of their parents).  Progressively, these advancements become more regular and bit by bit children fine-tune their five senses: they develop and perfect their language skills, their motor skills improve, and their dexterity in other areas also progresses as a natural result of the combination of physical maturation and external stimulation.

The breastfeeding baby soon enters early childhood, and then later becomes an adolescent in puberty.  At this stage an increase in hormone production produces the well-known “growth spurt,” after which growth tends to slow.  Our children will pass through all three of these stages before entering adulthood, and invariably along the way a lot of mothers and fathers end up wondering whether their children are progressing “normally.”  Many of these parents have inquired about this in their appointments with us.

Our job is to make sure that your children grow up healthily, and, in addition, to diagnose, investigate, and prevent anomalies in growth and development that may arise in the early years of your children’s lives.

However, the term normal is very relative when talking about children’s growth.  Nonetheless, it is still important to track each child’s development in order to ensure not only that he or she is physically healthy, but also to keep tabs on other things such as the child’s nutrition, genetic background, or emotional health.

Our goal is for our team of medical professionals to work hand in hand with parents in order to attend to their needs, as well as to those of their children, from birth onwards.  As a result, at the Growth, Development, and Childhood Nutrition Unit of Xanit Health we are proud to offer the services of our Parent School, designed especially to accompany and advise you through all the events of your child’s growth.  This resource is aimed to aid you through every stage of childhood, from birth to adolescence.  The more support a child has from his or her close family, the more motivated and confident he or she will feel.

When evaluated over a period of time, factors such as the height, size, or weight of your child can give us clues about his or her development. Percentile-based measurements can help us assess children’s growth during the first months of their lives.  These Child Growth Standards, established by the World Health Organization, are based on the progression of breastfed children and though they are a useful guide, at the same time they are no more significant than the standards set by the unique development pattern of each child.  Once children have finished breastfeeding, they should continue to be measured every 6-12 months in order to compare their development to the standard for children their age.  Significant deviations from the norm can be a first sign of other less visible problems.  In puberty, especially, in addition to height and weight measurements, it is important to verify that development is correct for the child’s age group.

If a child is short for his or her age, a study of the composition of his or her body mass—or the proportion of body water and body fat—can allow us to determine the state of the child’s health and whether or not treatment is necessary.

Furthermore, early childhood intervention programs exist to encourage cognitive development in small children.  These foster the child’s instinct to learn, explore, and acquire skills, and can even help increase children’s self-confidence.

These are just some of the resources that we offer to families.  Above all, we want to provide a guide for you to draw on to give you the confidence to help your children grow and develop to their maximum potential.

It is up to us to give our children all the support we can so that they develop appropriately, positively, and proactively!  Come visit us at Xanit Health, on the first floor of the Corte Inglés on the Avenida de Andalucía in Malaga!

 

Juan Pedro López Siguero

Pediatric Endocrinologist at Xanit International Hospital

Coordinator of the Pediatric Endocrinology Unit at the Women and Children’s Hospital of Málaga