What is growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiency is a condition caused by the pituitary gland not making enough growth hormone. This can cause poor overall growth and short stature.
Short stature is a height that's shorter than almost all other children of the same age and sex
Short stature doesn't always mean there's a problem
Other symptoms of growth hormone deficiency depend on the child's age and the cause of the deficiency
If children don't have enough growth hormone, doctors give growth hormone shots
Short stature is not the same thing as dwarfism, which is also called osteochondrodysplasia Osteochondrodysplasias Osteochondrodysplasias are a group of rare hereditary disorders of connective tissue, bone, or cartilage that cause the skeleton to develop abnormally. In osteochondrodysplasias, the growth... read more . Children with dwarfism have a genetic disorder that causes abnormal growth and development of bone and cartilage in addition to short stature.
What causes growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone is a chemical messenger made in the pituitary gland in your brain. It signals all the tissues in your body to grow and develop. Most of the time, doctors don't know why a child doesn't have enough growth hormone. But sometimes it's caused by another health problem such as:
Brain tumor or injury
Infection, such as meningitis Bacterial Meningitis Meningitis is an infection of the thin layer of tissue that covers your brain and spinal cord. This layer of tissue is called the meninges. In bacterial meningitis, infection of the meninges... read more and tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) Tuberculosis (TB) is a common, serious infection caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB affects millions of people worldwide, particularly in low-resource countries... read more
What are the symptoms of growth hormone deficiency?
The main symptoms of growth hormone deficiency are:
Poor overall growth rates
Being very short compared to other children of the same age and sex
Children with growth hormone deficiency usually:
Get their adult teeth later than normal
Have normal proportions (their arms and legs match their height)
How can doctors tell if my child has growth hormone deficiency?
Measure your child's height and weight and plot it on growth charts
Take x-rays of the bones of your child's hand to measure the bone age
To find out what is causing your child's slow growth, doctors may do:
Doctors do an MRI of the head to look for tumors or other problems with the gland that makes growth hormone (the pituitary gland Overview of the Pituitary Gland The pituitary gland is a pea-sized bit of tissue at the bottom of your brain. Glands are organs that make and release hormones into your blood. Hormones are chemicals that stimulate other cells... read more ).
How do doctors treat growth hormone deficiency?
Doctors treat growth hormone deficiency using:
Shots of growth hormone
Growth hormone is only effective if given before the bones stop growing.
If your child has a brain tumor, doctors may do surgery to remove it.