Short stature, per se, is clearly not a disease, but is commonly perceived to be associated with social and psychological disadvantage. The assumption, widely held by pediatricians that short children are likely to be significantly affected by their stature, has been founded largely on older, poorly designed clinic-based studies and laboratory investigations of beliefs about the association between stature and individual characteristics. In contrast, data from more recent and better designed clinic- and community-based studies show that, in terms of psychosocial functioning, individuals with short stature are largely indistinguishable from their peers, whether in childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Parents and children alike should be reassured by these findings. In the absence of clear pathology, physical or psychological, GH therapy for the short but otherwise normal child raises ethical concerns about so-called 'cosmetic endocrinology'.
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