Our brains are intricate structures responsible for many vital functions in our bodies. A small pea-sized organ named the pituitary gland produces growth hormones that are necessary for our growth, including cell growth, giving muscle strength and increasing bone density. At times this gland stops working or slows down its production leading to human growth hormone deficiency. This deficiency affects more children than adults. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, around 4000 in every 10,000 kids suffer from growth hormone deficiency.
If you notice your child isn’t growing properly or has lost weight, you should get them checked. If diagnosed early, this deficiency is completely treatable. Otherwise, your child may experience a shorter height and delayed puberty.
How Does Growth Hormone Deficiency Occur?
If the deficiency wasn’t there since birth, it might be due to a tumor developing in the hypothalamus region of your brain, near or on your pituitary gland.
A serious head injury or infection or even radiation exposure due to some treatment may also cause this deficiency.
Your kids may appear younger than their age, shorter than their peers, or have a round and chubby face along with some “baby fat.”
There may also be signs of delayed puberty. Young girls may not develop breasts, whereas young boys may still have shrill voices.
GH Deficiency Diagnosis
Initially, your doctor will inquire about your growth history and when you hit puberty. They may also ask about your other children’s growth if they suspect growth hormone deficiency. They would then get blood tests done. Yep, plural. This is because your growth hormone levels fluctuate a lot during the day and night. One test showing low levels isn’t enough. If the tests suggest a deficiency, the doctor will then ask for a growth hormone stimulation test, followed by an X-ray of their hands.
If your doctor suspects this deficiency may be due to a tumor, they would also want to get an MRI test done.
Growth Hormone Deficiency Treatment
If your kid is indeed diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, the doctor will prescribe them synthetic human growth hormone injections. The adequate dosage will be assigned by the doctor based on your kid’s height and weight.
These injections are administered in fatty areas such as the thigh, upper arm, or stomach. There aren’t any major side effects if you’re taking the supplements due to a deficiency. Common side effects include redness at the injection area, headaches, and hip pain.
This growth hormone treatment is usually short-term, but in some kids, it may become long-term, and they may require doses of the hormone till puberty. In rare cases, the pituitary gland just doesn’t work properly, and your child may require their doses throughout their lifetime.
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