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Is short stature a handicap? A comparison of the psychosocial functioning of referred and monreferred children with normal short stature and children with normal stature

The Journal of Pediatrics
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-3476(00)90057-x
  • Design


Abstract Objectives: Normal short stature (NSS), defined as height below the 5th percentile for age and sex norms that is not due to illness, hormonal deficiency, or part of a dysmorphic syndrome, has been thought to have a deleterious effect on psychosocial functioning based on observations of referred populations. Recent studies of nonreferred children with NSSS, however, have demonstrated normal function. This study directly compared the psychosocial functioning of referred children with NSS, nonreferred children with NSS, and children with normal stature. Study design: Participants, 90 children (46 boys, 44 girls) between 6 and 12 years of age (mean, 9.6 years), were administered intelligence and achievement tests. parents and teachers assessed adaptive and problem behaviors. Family adaptability and cohesiveness were measured. Results: Intelligence and achievement for referred and nonreferred children with NSS were average. Referred children with NSS were reported to have more externalizing behavior problems and poorer social skills than nonreferred children with NSS and children in the control group. Family adaptability and cohesiveness were comparable across groups. Conclusions: Children with NSS have normal psychosocial function, and results suggest that externalizing behavior problems, attention problems, and poor social skills in children referred to clinics for NSS are inappropriately attributed to short statute.

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