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Child gaining weight and one side of the body growth at a different rate than the other. Any idea?

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1528 Questions
Hi Doctor,

I have a 11 year old daughter and we currently live in Hong Kong after re-location from England some 5 years ago.

Generally she is fit and healthy, has a good appetite and has a wonderful personality.
Over the years she has put on weight and one thing that we have noticed is apart from having a left hand foot size, almost one size bigger than her right, she also appears to have a larger body frame on her left hand side of her body,than her right?
Note* This is very obvious when looking at her thighs.

Any ideas and is there any tests we should look at conducting and for what, that will not frighten her?

Kind Regards,
Posted Sun, 6 Jan 2013 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 4 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
Your daughters condition does resemble that of hemihypertrophy.
Hemihypertrophy is a condition in which one side of the body grows at a different rate than the other .Generally a non-harmful condition; however, depending on the region affected by Hemihypertrophy, side effects may occur, requiring medical attention.
Sufferers of this disorder may have acne only on one side of the face or thicker hair on one side of the head. Thickness of the skin may also differ greatly from one side to the other. Rarely, a patient will have one leg and the opposite arm affected .
However, researchers have not yet found a definitive cause for the disorder . Theories include hormone imbalances and restricted blood flow.
Children with hemihypertrophy have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, including Wilms tumor (a childhood kidney cancer) and liver cancer. Children with hemihypertrophy may also develop scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.
Most cases require no trearment at all. If the limb length discrepancy is more visible and problematic then surgery is advised.There are two main surgical options for the treatment of hemihypertrophy, shortening and lengthening.
So I would recommend you consult a pediatrician or a pediatric orthopedist for a thorough evaluation and confirmation of diagnosis . Depending on the assessment the doctor might want to do certain tests like X-ray and abdominal ultrasound.
Please do not worry . I understand that your child is healthy , disease free and like most of the hemihypertrophy cases may not require any treatment at all. However as health conscious vigilant parents I appreciate your efforts and would advise that you do get her evaluated for a confirmation .
Hope I have answered your query.
I'll be available for any follow up queries.
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