Growth, which usually refers to skeletal growth since it determines final adult height, is an extremely complex process. As such, it is susceptible to a wide range of genetic and physiologic disturbances. Indeed, growth is adversely affected by many if not most chronic diseases of childhood, through many different mechanisms.
Skeletal growth depends on hormonal signals for regulation. It also requires the production of adequate amounts of cartilage, because most bone forms within a model or template made from cartilage. Primary disorders of growth, that is, disorders in which growth is intrinsically affected, therefore fall into two major categories: disorders of the endocrine (hormone) system and disorders of the growing skeleton itself (skeletal dysplasias). Many of the former and most of the latter are genetic disorders.
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