1 out of 7,000 babies is born with a growth hormone deficiency (GHD). The condition is a result of the pituitary gland making too little of the growth hormone. The effects of a growth hormone deficiency cause more than height differences. Here are the facts.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
The pituitary gland is located at the base of the skull and is about a pea’s size. It secretes eight hormones that regulate thyroid activity and temperature, along with growth. The growth hormone helps maintain standard growth patterns, distribution of body fat, and muscle and bone strength for children. Without enough of this hormone, children don’t grow as fast as other children their age and gender. Other signs include:
- Height below the fifth percentile compared to other children of the same age and sex
- Sexual development that is absent or delayed during puberty
There are many reasons a child may have slow growth and below-average height. At times, temporary slow growth is not uncommon, such as right before puberty starts. The cause of GHD is not always clear. Some children are born with it, while others develop it later on from a brain injury, tumor, or radiation treatment to the head. A pediatric endocrinologist specializes in hormonal disorders and can accurately make a diagnosis.
Treatment and Improving Options for GHD
The best results from treatment occur when GHD is caught early on. The standard treatment for children is daily injections of synthetic human growth hormone through a prescription. It can be given at home and is injected under the skin. Some will need continued treatment until adolescence, while others may need it longer and into adulthood.
Clinical research is a vital part of improving the options for those with growth hormone deficiency. Diabetes & Glandular Disease Clinic is looking for participants to join enrolling studies for children with pre-pubertal growth hormone deficiency. Parents of girls aged 3 to 10 and boys aged 3 to 11 are encouraged to learn if research studies may be an option for your child. Call (210) 614-8612, or visit our website.