Growth Hormone Deficiency: Human Growth Hormone is a substance that controls your body’s growth. The growth hormone is made by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. This hormone increases the height of children (also known as linear growth), increases muscle mass and decreases body fat.
Growth hormone also helps control the metabolism of both children and adults. Metabolism is a process in which body cells convert food into energy and make other substances that the body needs.
If the amount of growth hormone in children or adults is very high or very low, there may be health problems for them. Growth hormone deficiency and some other related problems can be treated with artificial growth hormone. Also, sometimes growth hormone is used illegally and for non-medical purposes.
What is the growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiency is a rare disease in which the body does not produce enough of the growth hormone. Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, which forms as a small organ in the brain.
In children, growth hormone is essential for normal growth, muscle and bone strength, and proper distribution of fat in the body. It also helps control the level of glucose and lipid (fat) in the body. If the amount of growth hormone in one child is not adequate, it is likely that the kid will grow slower and have a much shorter height than other kids in same age and same gender.
It is important for parents to know slow growth and shorter height than normal have several reasons. Sometimes growth is very slow in children for example before puberty, which is completely normal and it is for a short time. An endocrine pediatrician (or pediatric hormonal specialist) or primary care physician can help you identify the true cause of the slow growth of the baby.
What causes growth hormone deficiency?
Some children have a growth hormone deficiency since birth. In some others, this complication occurs after birth, due to brain damage, tumor formation, or radiotherapy in the head. In some children, there may be no cause for this complication.
Causes of Growth Hormone Deficiency
In most cases, growth hormone deficiency can not be detected by any single agent. Researchers believe that growth hormone deficiency is rarely determined by genetic factors and is typically not passed from parent to child. But scientists believe that the risk of developing a growth hormone deficiency is higher in children who have certain types of physical defects, such as (cleft palate).
To understand what causes growth hormone deficiency, you first need to know the disease. Let’s see what happens when you have a deficiency in the growth hormone. The growth hormone, also called Somatotropin, is made by the pituitary gland located at the base of your brain. This hormone stimulates your body’s growth and keeps the tissues, muscles and bones healthy. But when your pituitary gland does not produce enough of the growth hormone, the body’s growth process will slow down.
The inadequate amount of growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland causes a growth hormone deficiency disease. It may be present at birth, which in this case is called congenital deficiency of the growth hormone. But there may be a growth hormone deficiency in childhood or adolescence, which in this case is called the lack of acquired growth hormone. This complication can lead to over-stretch of children’s height or very low bone density and muscle weakness in adults.
Some of the other factors that cause growth hormone deficiency include:
- Severe injury in head
- The emergence of a tumor in head or the history of a tumor in the pituitary gland
- Performing a brain surgery
- Hormonal disorders related to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland
- Poor blood supply to pituitary gland
- Radiation therapy in head
Symptoms of growth hormone deficiency in children
The most common symptoms of growth hormone deficiency in children is that the height of a child is significantly shorter than other children in his or her age. However, in a child with growth hormone deficiency, the ratio of different parts of the body’s size can be natural and normal.
The height increase in children with growth hormone deficiency is usually less than 5 centimeters per year. While children whose growth hormone levels are normal, they grow at about 6.5 (six and a half) centimeters each year from one year of age to maturity, and from the age of puberty the growth can be around 10 Centimeters per year.
Some of the other symptoms of growth hormone deficiency in children are:
- The child’s face may look younger than other children of the same age.
- Late maturity – Sometimes the child does not enter the puberty process at all.
- Increased fat around the face and abdomen
- Mild to moderate obesity
- Delay in teeth emergence and growth
- Slow growth of hair
How is growth hormone deficiency diagnosed?
The doctor first examines your child’s medical records and growth charts, and examines the presence of symptoms of growth hormone deficiency or other diseases that affect the baby’s development. Your doctor may also do some tests to help you find the cause of slow growth. These tests may include:
- X-ray imaging of the baby to examine bone growth (bone marrow) and assessment of the child’s growth potential
- Blood tests and other diagnostic tests to determine the factors that affect the child’s development.
- -Specific diagnostic tests for growth hormone deficiency include:
- Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). A blood test that measures the amount of IGF-1 hormone. The amount of this hormone represents the amount of growth hormone.
- Growth Hormone Induction Test. The child is given medications that stimulate the pituitary gland to release the growth hormone. If the amount of growth hormone in the blood does not reach a certain level after taking these drugs, it indicates that the pituitary gland can not produce enough growth hormone.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test. MRI examinations of the child’s head can be used to diagnose problems associated with the pituitary gland and brain, as well as to identify the brain tumor.
How is a child with growth hormone deficiency treated?
Children with growth hormone deficiency are treated with artificial insemination (HBV) daily by daily injecting. An artificial growth hormone should be prescribed by a physician and a prescription drug is required. This medicine is injected at home and under the skin. The growth of the baby is usually measured every 3 to 6 months by a pediatric Gastroenterologist, and according to the results of these assessments, the dose of hormone required is adjusted.
The best results from the treatment of growth hormone deficiency are when the disease is diagnosed earlier and treated. In some children, growth hormone can increase the baby’s growth by 10 cm in the first year of treatment. In others, the rate of growth is lower, but at any rate more than when not treated. Some children should continue to be treated until they reach adolescence, but others, even in adolescence, need to continue their treatment.
What are the side effects of Growth Hormone treatment?
Some of the common side effects that may be caused by the treatment of mild to moderate growth hormone in the baby include:
- Muscle or joint pain
- Slow mild thyroid gland
- Swelling of arms and legs
- Torsion of the spine (scoliosis)
- Growth of breast tissue in boys
Some rare but dangerous symptoms of this treatment include:
- Severe headache accompanied by vision problems
- The problem is in the hip joint, so that the upper part of the femur is removed from the seat.
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- For most children, the benefits of treating growth hormone include risks and potential side effects.
How can you do to help a child with growth hormone deficiency?
By doing the following, you can help your child achieve the best possible outcomes from growth hormone therapy:
- If you have any questions about this treatment, call your doctor.
- Follow the instructions of your doctor to inject your hormone and give your child the other prescription drugs.
- Let all your baby doctors know that the baby consumes the hormone.
- You should check with your doctor regularly to check your child’s condition.
- If you have symptoms of depression and weakness in self-esteem in your child, due to the small size of their body in compare with friends and relatives, be sure to refer to the counselor.