Growth hormone deficiency
Growth hormone deficiency occurs when the pituitary gland fails to release enough growth hormone to sustain normal growth. It is either congenital (present at birth) or acquired. In most cases, growth hormone deficiency is not preventable, but it is treatable. Consult your doctor or pediatric endocrinologist if you feel your child may have a growth hormone deficiency.
What causes growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiency happens when the pituitary gland malfunctions. This can be the result of illness or injury. Causes can include a brain tumor, cancer treatment, and head injury. Sometimes, doctors aren't sure what has caused the pituitary gland to fail.
Is growth hormone deficiency serious?
If left untreated, growth hormone deficiency can lead to short stature and delayed puberty.
Can I prevent growth hormone deficiency?
Most cases of growth hormone deficiency are not preventable.
How do I know if my child has growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiencies are often detected during regular baby clinic visits. Your doctor will record your child's weight and height at each visit. If your child is consistently small, your doctor might recommend tests to confirm a diagnosis.
How do I treat growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiency is treated with replacement synthetic hormones. The hormone treatment prescribed will depend on which growth hormone is deficient. Your doctor will refer you to a specialist called an endocrinologist who will discuss the treatment with you.
Should I call the doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if your child appears to be much shorter than other children his age.
What you need to know about growth hormone deficiency
- Growth hormone deficiency occurs when the pituitary gland fails to produce enough hormones to sustain normal growth.
- Kids with growth hormone deficiency are often shorter than their peers.
- Synthetic growth hormones can be given to replace the missing hormones and promote normal growth.
Find more relevant articles and information about growth hormone deficiency
- Find more articles about baby growth and development
- Learn more about baby development and key milestones
- Read more about toddler physical development
Written by Rebecca Stigall for Kidspot, New Zealand's parenting resource for family health. Sources include Better Health Channel, NSW Health and Health Insite.
Last revised: Wednesday, 20 January 2010
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.