Growth Hormone Deficiency In Children - Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

Growth Hormone Deficiency In Children

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Are you worried to notice that your child is the shortest in his class? Is the thought of he suffering from a nutritional deficiency or underlying health issue giving you sleepless nights? Well, if you can relate to the above situations reading this post is a must.

Parents tend to panic at the thought of any abnormality in their child. If you think your child’s growth is not on par with his peers, then he may be suffering from a growth hormone deficiency. Want to know more about this condition? Read about growth hormone deficiency in children!

What is Growth Hormone Deficiency?

Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a condition caused due to the malfunctioning of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland at the base of your child’s brain produces the growth hormone. The hormone deficiency has a variety of effects on children of different age groups, as in infants it might lead to a micro penis and in older children cause a decline in growth. It can also adversely affect a chil

d’s memory. Children suffering from the condition might stay aloof and then go into depression. In early childhood, this deficiency might also lead to slow muscular movements. Children with cleft lip or palate may be suffering from low levels of the growth hormone. There are two types of GHD – congenital and acquired.

[ Read: Growth Disorders In Children ]

Causes Of Growth Hormone Deficiency In Children:

Congenital GHD is due to a genetic error. While acquired GHD may be due to the following reasons:

  • Perinatal or postnatal brain trauma
  • An infection in the central nervous system
  • Tumors of the hypothalamus or pituitary
  • Early exposure to radiotherapy
  • Infiltrative diseases like tuberculosis (1)

However, most cases of a growth hormone deficiency are idiopathic.

Symptoms Of Growth Hormone Deficiency:

The common growth hormone deficiency symptoms in children include the following:

  • The child is of normal size at birth, but later he may suffer from delayed facial growth.
  • The child is likely to have a slow or flat rate of growth.
  • The child might be shorter than other children of the same age and gender.
  • In older children, there may be a delay in the onset of puberty. Alternatively it may not occur at all (2).

[ Read: Symptoms Of Dwarfism In Children ]

Diagnosis Of Growth Hormone Deficiency In Childhood:

If you suspect that your child is suffering from a growth hormone deficiency immediately seek an appointment with his pediatrician. The doctor may adopt the following measures to diagnose a growth hormone deficiency in your child:

  • The doctor may check your child’s height, weight and body proportions and note the deviation from the normal growth charts.
  • He may advise your child to undergo an X-Ray to measure his bone age.
  • The doctor may also suggest your child to undergo a stimulation test. He may check for substances like Insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP3), which are the byproducts of the growth hormone.
  • Your child may need an MRI scan to check the functioning of his pituitary gland and the hypothalamus.
  • The pediatrician may recommend other tests to check the levels of other hormones.

[ Read: Marfan Syndrome In Children ]

Treatment Of Growth Hormone Deficiency:

Like any other disease, the earlier the treatment starts, the better the chances are that your child will have a normal growth (3). Your child’s pediatrician may prescribe injections of thyroxine if your child is suffering from a deficiency of the thyroid-stimulating hormone. If your child is suffering from delayed puberty, he may require shots of the sex hormones.

Treatment of this hormonal deficiency is long-term and can sometimes last for years. The doctor will need to monitor your child’s growth closely to check the efficacy of the treatment. He may change the dosage of the medication if necessary.

Side Effects Of The GHD Treatment:

While undergoing treatment for GHD, your child is likely to suffer from the following side effects:

  • Headache
  • Muscle ache and joint ache
  • Slip of hip bone
  • Fluid retention

[ Read: Treating Muscle Pain In Children ]

Now you know all about the growth hormone deficiency in children. Why wait? Go ahead and enlighten other moms!

Did your child suffer from a growth hormone deficiency? What treatment did his doctor advise? Please share your experience and advice with other moms here.

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