Children and adolescents whose heights and growth velocities deviate from the normal percentiles on standard growth charts present a special challenge to physicians. Height that is less than the 3rd percentile or greater than the 97th percentile is deemed short or tall stature, respectively. A growth velocity outside the 25th to 75th percentile range may be considered abnormal. Serial height measurements over time documented on a growth chart are key in identifying abnormal growth. Short or tall stature is usually caused by variants of a normal growth pattern, although some patients may have serious underlying pathologies. A comprehensive history and physical examination can help differentiate abnormal growth patterns from normal variants and identify specific dysmorphic features of genetic syndromes. History and physical examination findings should guide laboratory testing.
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