Stunted children are shorter than normal for their age. As they are often symmetrically small and do not look thin, their stunting is often missed. Usually their growth curves have followed the centiles although their weight, height and head circumference all fall below the 3rd centile. Stunting usually occurs before 3 years of life.
It is very important to identify all children with a height below the 3rd centile.
Children who are symmetrically small (stunted) often have a normal growth rate. They are simply growing parallel to, but below, the 3rd centile.
The most common cause of stunting is chronic malnutrition during the first years of life. However, some healthy short children are genetically small, and look like their parents. Being born very pre-term or growth-restricted can also result in stunting. Some important medical disorders, such as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, can cause stunting.
The most common cause of stunting is chronic malnutrition.