Your child has a natural way of growing that is right for him/her, but if your child has not been making much progress on the growth chart in over 18 months or has been outgrowing all his/her clothes sooner than expected, resolve the head-scratching with a Paediatric Endocrinologist.
A pediatric endocrinologist treats children with conditions that affect the hormones and the glands that produce them. Hormones are chemicals the body makes to control body functions like growth, breakdown of food, and reproductive cycles. Because children are still growing, their problems are often quite different from those commonly seen by endocrinologists who treat adults.
The DocDoc team met with Dr Warren Lee, a reputed paediatric endocrinologist who helms Dr Warren Lee’s Paediatrics, Growth & Diabetes Centre. Amdist the backdrop of his plush and colourful clinic with sleek interiors, Dr Warren Lee gave us an edutaining Paediatric Endocrinology 101.
Here are some excerpts from the interview, touching on the most frequently sought-after answers related to child growth issues :
When should people go see an endocrinologist?
There are two groups of kids that might benefit from seeing a paediatric endocrinologist. One group are the kids who are not growing very well and another group are the kids who are growing too well – the ones who show signs of puberty (like a faint moustache and consequently deeper voice) way before anyone else. We can now actually modify the pace of puberty, because early puberty usually means your child could finish growth early and end up far shorter than normal.
What are the possible signs of a child growth problem?
If a child is not growing well compared to his or her friends who are of the same age, it is not necessarily abnormal. One of the important things we want to do is to reassure those people who are normal that they’re normal and that they don’t have to go worry about it. At the same time we have to effectively pick up those who definitely have a medical problem. And pick them up early, so we can do something for them.
How do doctors diagnose and treat precocious puberty?
You can tell when somebody has developed early puberty by looking at them or finding out their growth pattern. Nowadays there are very effective treatments. For example growth hormone therapy is very effective. For those people who have a relative or absolute deficiency, we’re now able to go and deal with that. And for those for whom early puberty has set in and limits the time they have to continue growing, we can also reverse the onset of puberty to give them a bit more time to grow.
What are some signs and symptoms of diabetes that shouldn’t be ignored?
Some people with risk of diabetes may have very dark necks and we call that acanthosis nigricans. When you’re at greater risk and it’s turning to diabetes, the colour might actually start to disappear, and people might start to lose weight and think wow this is great! Actually it might be that the body is not able to cope with the demands of obesity anymore and you might actually be developing diabetes.
Another type of diabetes, is called diabetes insipidus. And the kids with this problem tend to wet the bed at night. They tend to be very thirsty during the day. There is effective medication which can replace the hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH) which controls the amount urine produced and reduce the risk of developing heat stroke.
What are some misconceptions people have about diabetes?
One of the misconceptions is that diabetes is caused by excess sugar consumption, and that’s it’s a lifestlyle issue that was left unchecked. Yes very often it is a lifestyle issue, but certain types of diabetes are not preventable. They are sometimes caused by a virus knocking out your pancreas or they’re caused by certain genes / inherited traits that could put you at great risk even if you have a lovely figure and are super fit. So it’s not always about lifestyle choices or the parents having failed to do what they were supposed to for the kid.
About Dr. Warren Lee
Dr Warren Lee runs the show at Dr Warren Lee’s Paediatrics, Growth & Diabetes in Camden Medical Centre. With over 25 years of experience in the paediatric field, he has amassed notable accomplishments that make for an impressive professional profile.