Pediatric Growth Hormone Deficiency

Hormones are messengers

Pediatric Growth Hormone Deficiency Pediatric growth hormone deficiency (PGHD) occurs when the production of growth hormone is disrupted during infancy or childhood.

Growth hormone (often designated as hGH or GH) is secreted by the pituitary gland and plays a critical role in stimulating body growth and development. It is involved in the production of muscle protein and in the breakdown of fats. Decreased levels of growth hormone may result in abnormalities of many body processes, including growth and development, production of muscle protein, and breakdown of fats.

Although PGHD is uncommon, it may occur at any time during infancy or childhood, and there are many possible causes. Some involve damage to the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls the pituitary. A major sign of PGHD is a marked slowing of growth, usually to less than 2 inches (5 cm) a year.

Pediatric growth hormone deficiency is diagnosed through special blood tests that detect growth hormone in the blood. It is treated by growth hormone therapy, which involves giving injections of growth hormone, such as Primatropin, until the child reaches his or her adult genetic potential height or until the growing ends of the bones fuse.

Looking For Signs of Growth Failure

Many parents are concerned about their children's growth and want to learn more about growth and growth problems. They want to know when to consult a healthcare provider and when not to worry. We've developed a list of questions to help you recognize signs that your child's growth may be falling below normal for his or her age. We've also included tools, such as a pediatric growth chart and growth percentile calculator, that can help you determine potential problems.

How to Recognize Growth Problems

Although most children who are very short or very tall are healthy and normal, some children have diseases or conditions that affect their growth. A child's growth rate is a more important clue to the presence of a growth problem than is his or her size. For this reason, regular, accurate measurements plotted on a pediatric growth chart are very important: A change in the child's growth rate may provide the first hint of an underlying problem. Specifically, a slowing of growth, especially to less than 2 inches (5 cm) per year could be a sign of pediatric growth hormone deficiency or chronic illness.

If you have concerns, discuss them with your child's healthcare provider. The following questions can serve as guidelines for parents who are worried about their children's growth. While not necessarily indicating a problem, a "Yes" answer to any of these questions* signals a need to discuss the question with your child's healthcare provider.
  • Is my child the shortest or tallest in the class?
  • Is my child still wearing last year's clothes or outgrowing clothes much faster than usual?
  • Is my child unable to keep up with other children of the same age in play?
  • Is my child growing less than 2 inches or more than 3 inches a year?
  • Is my child complaining about his or her size?
  • Is my child showing signs of early sexual development (before age 7 in girls and before age 9 in boys)?
  • Has my 13-year-old girl or 15-year-old boy failed to show any signs of sexual development?
*This list is based in part on Human Growth Foundation (HGF) guidelines.

For more information on these guidelines contact:
Human Growth Foundation
997 Glen Cove Avenue
Glen Head, New York 11545
or call toll-free: (800) 451-6434