Are you worried that your child is not growing at a normal pace? Does your child look much younger than other kids of his age group? If this is the case, then your child might be suffering from ‘growth hormone deficiency’. It is basically the absence or deficiency of growth hormones in a person. These growth hormones are produced by the pituitary gland, which stimulates the body to grow. Growth hormone deficiency has different effects at different ages. In newborn infants, the primary manifestations may be hypoglycemia, while in later infancy, growth failure is more likely. Deficiency of the growth hormone in adults is rare, but may feature lean body mass or poor bone density and other physical and psychological problems. Quick diagnosis of the deficiency and treatment is very important, to cut down the long time effects of GH deficiency. Read on to explore the causes, symptoms and treatment of growth hormone deficiency.
- Insufficient production of stimulatory hormone can be one of the causes of GH deficiency in people.
- Deficiency in growth hormone produced by the pituitary glands is also one of the causes.
- Problem can also be faced if there is some defect in the receptors that receive the hormone in the body’s cell.
- Lack of sufficient oxygen during childbirth can be one of the reasons for GH deficiency in children.
- Genetic factors can also play a role, though very rarely and in some instances, they may be hereditary.
- Any kind of abnormalities in the hormone receptors can also cause a deficiency in growth hormones.
- Any infection or abnormality in pituitary gland can also cause deficiency in growth hormones. Abnormality in pituitary gland will also reduce the production of other types of pituitary hormones, leading to other complications.
- Low growth velocity for age and pubertal stage is one of the symptoms of GH deficiency in children.
- Another important symptom includes increased amount of fat around the waist.
- The child might look younger than other children of his/her age.
- Delayed tooth development is another symptom of GH deficiency in children.
- The children having deficiency of growth hormone may also suffer from delayed onset of puberty.
- Low energy throughout the day is one of the symptoms.
- Decreased strength and exercise tolerance is another important symptom.
- Adults suffering from the deficiency can gain weight around the waist.
- People can lose muscle mass if they are suffering from GH deficiency.
- Feeling of anxiety, depression or sadness can change the social behavior of the concerned person.
- The first method of diagnosing growth hormone deficiency is by monitoring the child’s growth over a period of time.
- X-rays of hand and wrist are taken to determine bone maturity and growth potential.
- A review of mother’s pregnancy, labor and delivery is done.
- Scanning of pituitary gland is done to detect abnormalities, if any.
- Artificial stimulation of growth hormone is done, followed by the measurement of growth hormone releases over a period of time.
- Growth hormone in the blood is measured during an overnight stay in the hospital, as two-third of the production occurs during deep sleep.
Specific treatment for GH deficiency will be determined by the physician, based on the patient’s age, overall health and medical history. The physician will also test his/her tolerance for specific medication and the extent of the problem. Once the deficiency has been diagnosed, the treatment will begin with regular injection of human growth hormone. The treatment is a long process and may last for almost a year. It is better if the deficiency is diagnosed at the earliest and the treatment starts as soon as possible. If the treatment starts early, the patient will be able to get back to the normal growth routine.