Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gender bias in child growth evaluations may miss disease in girls

07.02.2005


Twice as many boys as girls are referred to medical specialists for evaluation of short stature or poor growth, according to a new study.

The imbalance may reflect society’s gender biases about stature, and may have serious health consequences: girls whose growth failure is caused by an underlying disease may be overlooked, or experience unnecessary delays in receiving a proper diagnosis. The results may also suggest that short but healthy boys are more likely to be subjected to unnecessary medical evaluations.

"Growth failure is a very sensitive indicator of a child’s overall health, and should be evaluated with equal care for both boys and girls," said Adda Grimberg, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric endocrinologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who led the research. "Instead, these referral patterns may result from social pressures implying that short stature is a more significant problem in boys than girls."



The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

The researchers reviewed the charts of all 278 children referred to the Diagnostic and Research Growth Center at Children’s Hospital in 2001 for new evaluations of short stature or poor growth. Because the definitions of short stature use percentage cutoffs, rather than actual heights, roughly equal numbers of boys and girls would be expected among the referrals. Instead, the research team found that boys outnumbered girls by 182 to 96, nearly a two-to-one margin. The gender discrepancies were more pronounced starting at age 9.

Although girls were less likely to be referred than boys, the girls’ height deficits were greater than those for the boys in the study. In other words, although all the children in the study were short, the girls were significantly shorter than the boys when compared to both the general population and to predictions based on their parents’ heights.

The most disturbing finding of the study, said Dr. Grimberg, was that 41 percent of the girls were found to have an underlying disease that made them short, compared to 15 percent of the boys. Conversely, 38 percent of the boys were within normal height ranges, compared to 20 percent of the girls.

"Because our study looked only at the referred children, and not at all the children who were not referred, the meaning of this difference in underlying disease is not clear," said Dr. Grimberg. "It may indicate that diseases are being missed in girls who are not referred, or that the percentage of boys with disease is ’diluted’ by the large numbers of healthy boys are being referred, or a combination of the two. Either way, both sexes lose."

A broad variety of diseases may cause short stature -- among them, hormone deficiencies, Turner syndrome (a chromosome abnormality found only in females), and gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease. "Many of these diseases have better outcomes when they are treated early, so a delayed diagnosis can have serious medical consequences," said Dr. Grimberg. For example, if celiac disease, an intolerance to proteins in wheat, goes untreated, it may raise a child’s risk of other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or thyroiditis.

On the other hand, she added, overzealous evaluation of boys who are short but healthy may carry its own social costs: "Evaluating and treating healthy boys reinforces the idea that their height is a medical problem, which may hurt the boys’ self-esteem." Another factor, added Dr. Grimberg, is the fact that boys are more likely than girls to receive growth hormone treatments, which may cost $20,000 to $30,000 per year. "When growth hormone is prescribed in the absence of disease, the treatment is cosmetic, not medical."
Dr. Grimberg concluded that further studies among the general population of children could reveal the extent to which short girls with underlying disease are not being diagnosed. She also said the study highlights the need for greater attention to proper growth monitoring in children.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (part of the National Institutes of Health) and a grant from the University of Pennsylvania Trustee’s Council. Dr. Grimberg’s co-authors were Jessica Katz Kutikov, M.D., also of Children’s Hospital, and Andrew J. Cucchiara, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. All three authors were from the Penn School of Medicine.

John Ascenzi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.chop.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>