Why is my child's growth not on track?

Why is my child's growth not on track?


A child’s height in early childhood is a strong marker of healthy growth. It is also closely linked with the development of the brain and language skills. In fact, children who fall short of the minimum height standards for their age are considered to suffer from a serious condition called stunting.1

Children who are stunted may not be deficient in calories but may be undernourished due to their unwillingness to eat or lack of balanced nutrition.1 

Did you know that ~22% children globally below the age of 5, are stunted!2
In India, ~35% children under age of 5, are stunted.*

Stunting goes beyond just being short; it is an issue that can have adverse impact on the child’s health and development. Short-term consequences may include increased susceptibility to illnesses, and reduced capacity for learning. In the longer term, stunting has been linked to lesser schooling, shorter adult stature, and lower income as adults.3

The good news is that it is possible to prevent and overcome stunting. The first step is to MEASURE and compare your child’s height against WHO or national growth standards .

Your child’s height is the best indicator of his/her physical and mental health

Use this tool to see if your child’s growth is on track

Growth Calculator 

What is stunting?

A child is said to be stunted when they are too short for their age.  It is a consequence of inadequate nutrition over the long term, during the most critical periods of growth and development.2

How to detect stunting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed height-for-age charts that can be used globally.4,5

Let’s look at this chart, where we compare the height of a normal 3-year-old girl and boy versus a stunted 3-year-old boy and 4-Yrs old girl. Do you observe the height difference in the two sets of children?5,6

If your child’s height falls below the bottom red line , he or she may be stunted.

What can cause stunting?

One of the direct causes of stunting is poor nutrition,1 and this can be examined from the perspectives of nutrient adequacy, absorption, and utilization.

Inadequate Nutrition:

When it comes to food intake, the quality as well as quantity of food matters. An imbalance in the amount and type of a particular nutrient can impact growth of the child.  Each nutrient has their own unique role to play in the growth and development of the child. For example, carbohydrates are needed to produce energy, and protein for building muscles. Vitamins and minerals are also needed to support various body functions, such as bone building.

Nutrient Absorption

Nutrients that are consumed need to be appropriately absorbed by the body. Gut infections, which lead to diarrhea, can result in poor nutrition by affecting the absorption of nutrients. Recurrent diarrhea could negatively impact weight and height gains.7

Nutrients Utilization

After being consumed and absorbed, nutrients need to be used by the body to perform their functions. Some nutrients may be better utilized than others – for example, Vitamin K2 (MK-7) is more effective than vitamin K1 in activating osteocalcin for calcium transport into the bone.8

WHO provides detailed information about the various other causes of stunting – learn more here.1 If your child is stunted or at risk of stunting, please consult your doctor for a proper assessment.

Stunting is just not about being short. Know its impact

Stunting is a problem with early beginnings and lasting consequences. It can lead to irreversible, long-lasting impact on physical and mental development of the child.1,3

Poor Performance in school

Stunting has been associated with lower cognitive ability and poorer school achievement.10,11

Increased risk of infections and illness

Inadequate or deficiency in nutrients over time can lead to a weakened immune system, resulting in a child falling sick more often3

Grow up to be Stunted adults

Research has shown that compared to non-stunted children, stunted children were shorter by up to 9 cm at adulthood.12

Lower income

Evidence suggests that taller adults are more likely to have higher earnings.13,14

How to manage stunting? Here’s what you can do.

Inadequate nutrition is one of the most significant causes of stunting. Hence, it is important for children to consume a healthy, balanced diet, with sufficient intake of energy and high-quality protein, along with adequate vitamins and minerals.

o   Balanced diet: This involves consuming a variety of foods from the different food groups in appropriate amounts.

o   High-quality protein: Examples include dairy, eggs, meat, and fish.

o   Vitamins and minerals: These micronutrients are important for bodily functions, such as helping to fight infection, and supporting normal growth and development .

If your child is a picky eater or you are worried that he is not eating a balanced and varied diet, consider Scientifically designed supplement to help improve his nutritional intake and promote catch-up growth.

ACT NOW:  Early intervention can get your child’s growth back on track 

A child cannot recover height as easily as they can regain weight. Take action early to improve your child’s nutrition, to help unlock his or her full growth potential and reduce the risks associated with stunting.

Make sure to measure and monitor your child’s growth regularly (https://pediasure.in/grow-right/growth-check)

Learn more about how Pediasure can help your child grow well! ( https://www.family.abbott/in-en/pediasure/science-of-pediasure.html)

Consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns regarding your child’s growth, and their specific nutritional needs.  


1.       WHO Departmental News. Stunting in a nutshell. Available [Online] at: https://www.who.int/news/item/19-11-2015-stunting-in-a-nutshell Accessed on 3 Nov 2022.

2.       Levels and trends in child malnutrition: UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank Group joint child malnutrition estimates: Key findings of the 2021 edition. Available [Online] at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240025257 Accessed on 2 Nov 2022.

3.       Stewart CP, et al. Matern Child Nutr. 2013;9 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):27-45

4.       WHO. Height-for-age. Boys. Available [Online] at: https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/child-growth/child-growth-standards/indicators/length-height-for-age/sft_lhfa_boys_z_2_5.pdf?sfvrsn=e70e3a87_7 Accessed 3 Nov 2022.

5.       WHO. Height-for-age. Girls. Available [Online] at: https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/child-growth/child-growth-standards/indicators/length-height-for-age/sft_lhfa_girls_z_2_5.pdf?sfvrsn=72bff814_9 Accessed 3 Nov 22.

6.       Milward J. Nutrition Research Reviews. 2017;30:50-72.

7.       Iddrisu I, et al. Nutrients 2021, 13, 2727. DOI: 10.3390/nu13082727.

8.       Schurgers LJ, et al. Blood. 2007;109(8):3279-3283.

9.       Dubois L, et al. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30153.

10.   Alam A, et al. PlosOne. 2020;15(1):e0227839. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227839

11.   Mendez MA, Adair LS. J Nutr. 1999;129(8):1555-62.

12.   Coly AN, et al. Journal of Nutrition. 2006;136: 2412–2420.

13.   Judge TA. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2004;89(3):428-441.

14.   Schick A and Steckel RH. Journal of human capital. 2015;9(1):94-115.

15.   Pham DT, et al. The Open Nutrition Journal. 2019;13(1):43-52.

*National Family Health Survey-5. 2019-21. Available at: https://main.mohfw.gov.in/sites/default/files/NFHS-5_Phase-II_0.pdf.