A growth hormone deficiency (GHD) occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone. It more commonly affects children than adults.
The condition is also a symptom of several genetic diseases, including Turner syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome.
You may grow concerned if your child is not meeting height and weight growth standards. Growth hormone deficiency is treatable. Children who are diagnosed early often recover very well. If left untreated, the condition can result in shorter-than-average height and delayed puberty.
Your body still needs growth hormone after you’ve finished puberty. Once you’re in adulthood, the growth hormone maintains your body structure and metabolism. Adults can also develop GHD, but it isn’t as common.
Causes Of Growth Hormone Deficiency .
- Children with cleft lips or cleft palates often have poorly developed pituitary glands, so are more likely to have GHD.
- GHD that isn’t present at birth may be caused by a tumor in the brain. These tumors are normally located at the site of the pituitary gland or the nearby hypothalamus region of the brain.
- In children and adults, serious head injuries, infections, and radiation treatments can also cause GHD. This is called acquired growth hormone deficiency (AGHD).
- radiation therapy for cancers, if the treatment field includes the hypothalamus and pituitary
- Diseases that infiltrate the hypothalamus or its connection to the pituitary gland, such as histiocytosis
- An autoimmune condition (lymphocytic hypophysitis)
It’s also important to remember that growth hormone deficiency is only one of many conditions that may affect your child’s growth. Your child’s short stature may be caused by other syndromes, and growth failure may be due to decreased nutritional intake, gastrointestinal disorders, diseases that have increased metabolic demand or hypothyroidism.
Is growth hormone deficiency treatable?
A: Treatment of growth hormone deficiency involves regular injections of synthetic human growth hormone. Children receive daily injections. Treatment usually lasts several years, although results are often seen as soon as three to four months after the injections are started.
The earlier the treatment for growth hormone deficiency is started, the better chance the child will have of attaining her normal or near-normal adult height. However, not all children respond well to growth hormone treatment.
How safe is treatment for growth hormone deficiency?
A: While there are many potential side effects, particularly if growth hormone is used to treat children who don’t have a true hormone deficiency, researchers generally agree that treatment with human growth hormone is safe and effective.
Will growth hormone deficiency affect my child’s intelligence?
A: Growth hormone deficiency has no effect on a child’s intelligence.