Growth Hormone Deficiency In Children
When the pituitary gland produces little or no growth hormone, it results in a growth hormone deficiency. This can happen in adulthood as well, but in children, it typically arises from the abnormal formation during growth or some type of damage early on. Other causes of growth hormone deficiency in children are genetic syndromes, such as Turner’s Syndrome. Unfortunately, some cases have no known cause.
Pediatricians identify deficiency through regular growth evaluations at their annual check-ups. They expect to see maturation occurring within a normal range, hitting benchmarks at different stages. If a pediatrician misses these benchmarks, and their height remains below what is considered “normal”, a child might be growth hormone deficient.
However, some children just grow slower than others, or they might have other issues unrelated to growth hormones. Either way, it’s important to consult with your child’s doctor to determine the next steps.
What Are The Signs?
The most obvious sign is limited growth. Additionally, a child with growth hormone deficiency might have metabolic issues. Human growth hormone controls the usage of food, and a lack thereof can result in a higher body fat percentage and decreased lean mass. Bone density is usually affected as well, and as lipids and cholesterol rise, long-term effects could result. Consult with a medical professional if you witness any of these signs in tandem.
Symptoms of growth hormone deficiency include:
- Small stature and abnormally slow growth
- Younger looking features when compared to peers of the same age
- Slightly chubbier build
- Delayed puberty
- Diminished hair growth
It’s important to note that growth hormone deficiency in children has not been shown to have any effect on their intellectual abilities. Always remind your child that even with this condition, they should be proud and are loved for who they are and all of their amazing qualities. Growth hormone deficiency is difficult to deal with in children, especially as their peers begin to respond. With HGH deficiency, each child has a different experience, but no child’s life is solely their condition.
Diagnosing Growth Hormone Deficiency
To get a clear diagnosis, consult with your medical professional. You can expect them to run the following screening tests:
- Bone Age X-Ray
- Serum IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 levels
- MRI of the brain
- Growth Hormone Stimulation Test
- Growth Hormone Deficiency Treatment
Your child’s endocrinologist will draw up a specific treatment pathway for their exact needs. The factors to consider when looking at a treatment plan include:
- General health and medical history
- Tolerance or allergies to medication
- Extent of condition
- Responses in treatment and necessary adjustments
- You and your child’s preference
The most effective treatment involves the injection of human growth hormone either daily or a few times a week. Expect to see results within a few months, but most often treatment lasts a few years. The earlier treatment begins, the better chance your child has to reach normal height as an adult. In some cases, HGH therapy may need to continue into adulthood