Magazine article USA TODAY

Many Short Kids Happy as Is

Magazine article USA TODAY

Many Short Kids Happy as Is

Article excerpt

The prevailing belief that children and adolescents who are especially short have social adjustment problems and fewer friends than kids of average height has been countered by a University at Buffalo (N.Y.) study, challenging one rationale for intervening at an early age with human growth hormone treatment. In the first study of its kind conducted in a general population, researchers assessed students--grades six through 12--across the full range of heights in the classroom setting. The students were unaware that height was a factor being examined.

The findings show that height plays no role in the number of friendships extra-short or extra-tall children have, the number of classmates who identified them as friends, their peer acceptance, height of their friends, or their social adjustment in general. The one characteristic associated with height was perceived age: Shorter students were thought to look younger than their age, but this association diminished in later grades.

"All of our current thinking concerning social adjustment problems associated with short stature is based on experiences of children and adolescents who come to pediatric endocrinologists for an evaluation of growth," points out David E. Sandberg, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. …

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