What is advanced bone age?
My son just hit puberty and we had him examined due to his being unusually short for his age. The doctor explained that he has 'advanced bone age' and he will probably always be short. What does this mean? Why did this happen to him?
I appreciate this question because it shows how we as physicians need to do a better job of explaining our test results to our patients. In this case, advanced bone age is term used when a child's bone as it appears in x-ray looks like that of an older child. I'll explain. In children, bone age refers to how open or closed the growth plates are relative to the average age that those growth plates typically fuse. For example, if the average male hits puberty at age 14 and stops growing at 16, then the growth plates should be fused by age 16 or so. If your son has advanced bone age, this means that his growth plates appear closer to being fused (and therefore closer to him not growing anymore) than would be expected by his age. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician. He or she can go through your child's x-rays and explain exactly what they mean. Based on their results, his doctor may be able to estimate how tall he will be. Depending on how much shorter he is than average, his doctor may be able to refer him to a pediatric endocrinologist who can discuss the use of growth hormone to increase his height. Good luck.
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