The brain’s pituitary gland produces the growth hormone, which controls and regulates many functions in the body and determines growth levels. Growth Hormone Deficiency of GHD is a condition when the pituitary glands do not produce enough of the growth hormone required for normal growth.
The growth hormones in one’s body build up during childhood, reach the top at puberty and start to decline after their 30s. They help stimulate the growth of the bone and other tissues in the body. The condition can occur at any stage and does not have any bearing on a child’s intelligence. It could also be caused due to damage to the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus. The injury could be congenital (before birth) or acquired (after birth).
The pituitary gland is the master endocrine gland of the size of a pea located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland releases eight hormones that regulate metabolism, blood pressure, growth, and other body processes. In some cases, Growth Hormone Deficiency could be a part of the genetic syndrome, and in several cases, the cause of GHD is unknown.
When the release by the pituitary gland of the growth hormone is low, growth hormone deficiency occurs in kids and stagnates growth. It results in evidently short stature in children. It could be partial (where not enough hormone is released) or total (where no amount of hormone is released). About one in 4000-10000 children are diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. Many of these children could reach a normal, average height when detected and treated early. Growth rates differ in children, but on average, “normal” growth is categorized as below:
If your child is lower than the third percentile in their age group, there could be a chance of GHD.
Dwarfism growth hormone deficiency can occur due to damage in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus that could have occurred at birth or after. The causes can be classified into two categories:
Congenital growth hormone deficiency occurs where there are mutations or alterations in genes vital for the development of the pituitary gland. They could also occur when there are mutations in the receptors and factors in the growth hormone pathway. No certain cause for this has been known until date. Some congenital causes are:
The acquired causes for growth hormone deficiency are:
It is important to know that growth hormone deficiency is one of the many factors affecting a child’s growth. The short stature, which is the primary physical attribute of growth hormone deficiency, could be because of many reasons- lack of nutritional intake, hypothyroidism or increased metabolism, or gastrointestinal disorders.
Growth Hormone Deficiency is characterized by high or low levels of moving growth hormone, late bone age, delayed puberty, protruding forehead, and low blood sugar levels. Some common growth hormone deficiency signs are:
As these symptoms could occur in other medical conditions, too, it is recommended to consult a physician for any diagnosis.
Children of families with existing genetic disorders, children who have suffered a brain injury or tumor, or those going through radiation therapy are at a higher risk of developing growth hormone deficiency. It can result in some side effects and complications as below:
A growth increment is one of the primary indicators of the presence of growth hormone deficiency. The chart below explains the normal growth rate in children.
A decrease in the growth rate by 10% could point towards a deficiency in growth velocity. Once a referral is made to a doctor, the family’s medical history could be asked for. The doctor may also recommend the following tests:
Since the middle of the ’80s, synthetic growth hormones have been used to treat growth hormone deficiency in children and adults. Before this, natural growth hormones from cadavers were used for treatment.
It is administered subcutaneously by injections into fatty tissues of the body, especially in places like the back of thighs, arms, or buttocks. It is most effective when administered daily. An endocrinologist will give you the course of the treatment. At each visit, the doctor will monitor the following:
Side Effects Are Rare and Could Include:
Treatment lasts until growth is completed, mostly in the late teens.
Along with doctor’s treatment, there are other ways to help your child with the deficiency:
One of the key signs of the treatment will be noticeable growth. It could take anywhere between three to six months to notice any visible signs. The child may grow by one or two inches within the first lap or six months of treatment. One could also notice
The growth hormone deficiency treatment in children is long-term and could continue until the child reaches complete growth potential. It is important to visit the endocrinologist regularly and monitor growth through blood tests and X-rays. It is mandatory to keep up with the follow-up schedule of the treatment, and treatment may vary from child to child.
Children with congenital growth hormone deficiency could be treated with growth hormones until puberty. Some children with little growth hormone in their youth will begin to produce more as they enter adulthood. On the contrary, some may retain treatment for their entire lives. The doctor may determine the length of the treatment and need for injection by conducting mandatory blood tests and checking hormone levels in the blood.
As a parent, it is important to monitor your child’s growth as per their developmental milestones and average “growth rates.” If there is any doubt, a doctor must be consulted. It could be just a delay or any other medical condition. However, it is only a doctor who can confirm if there a growth hormone deficiency exists. The sooner the treatment is started, the sooner the child responds. Most children respond well to the treatment. If your child is not meeting the normal height and weight standard, it is advisable to check if they have a growth hormone deficiency. Early diagnosis speeds recovery, and if left untreated, it could result in a lesser than average height. The body needs growth hormone after puberty, and in adulthood, the hormone maintains the body’s structure and metabolism rate.
This post was last modified on November 24, 2021 5:56 pm
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