Growth, how does it work?

Growth, how does it work?

How are your baby's bones growing? What is the role of growth hormone? How to promote its development? We take stock of baby growth.

Extensible bones

All of your child's long bones are built according to the same pattern:

  • A tube-shaped body (the diaphysis), a head at each end (the epiphyses) and, between them, a band not yet ossified (cartilage growth or conjugation). Over the years, this substance will gradually harden, while allowing the bone to lie down. To enlarge in diameter, the bone has another technique: it is covered with a membrane, just under the outer bark, which is able to manufacture itself bone. Year after year, successive thicknesses of new bone material are superimposed. While those underneath destroy themselves and create a channel inside the bone. But without the action of hormones, these growth mechanisms would remain at a standstill.

Very active hormones

  • First of them: growth hormone, also called somatropin. It is produced by the anterior pituitary, a small gland located in the center of the brain.
  • In children, this substance "to grow" is exclusively manufactured during sleep: 50% during REM sleep, that of dreams, and 50% during other phases of sleep.
  • During puberty, this hormone will be secreted day and night. His role ? Intensify the production of proteins, these "bricks" that serve to build the body, then ensure the transport to the growth cartilages of the nutrients necessary for their ossification.
  • Another hormone, secreted by the thyroid gland and named thyroxine, helps it in its task.

And when is growth hormone missing?

  • Some disorders - very rare - are linked to growth hormone deficiency. But it is she who orders the body to grow; also, without treatment, the child risks being really small.
  • When the growth curve suddenly breaks or if it is really below the norms, the pediatrician asks for an X-ray of the wrists and hands to assess the stage of evolution of the bones.
  • If he detects an abnormality, he has a blood test of the growth hormones. If the analysis reveals a deficit, it prescribes a synthetic hormone that, unlike human-caused hormones that were formerly given, is devoid of negative side effects.
  • This treatment is proposed only after study of the file by specialized hospital teams, only able to deliver the drug. Admittedly, the treatment is very long and tedious but it allows growth to restart and your child to acquire a final size quite correct.

Baby: its growth in questions

That your baby is in good shape, that's what you want. Hence the importance of closely following the evolution of its weight and size. And to know how to disentangle the true from the false. Take stock with our quiz!

Isabelle Gravillon