When does a growth hormone deficiency (GHD) occur? It occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone, and more commonly affects children than adults. The pituitary gland (a small gland located at the base of the skull) secretes eight hormones. Bodily functions such as thyroid activity and body temperature are controlled by these hormones. GHD is also a symptom of several genetic diseases and occurs in roughly 1 in 7,000 births. You should be concerned if your child is not meeting the right weight and height growth standards. While children who are diagnosed early often recover very well, the condition can result in shorter than average height and delayed puberty if left untreated. GH includes a variety of psychological symptoms such as depression, lack of concentration, poor memory, bouts of anxiety or emotional distress. Adults with AGHD generally have high cholesterol and high levels of fat in the blood. This is more due to changes in the body’s metabolism caused by low levels of growth hormone, rather than poor diet. Adults who have AGHD are at a greater risk for cardiac problems and diabetes says Pediatric Endocrinologist Coimbatore.
1.What Causes Growth Hormone Deficiency?
Children who have poorly developed pituitary glands (due to cleft palates or cleft lips) are often more likely to have GHD. If GHD isn’t present at birth, it may have been caused by a tumour in the brain. The normal location of these tumours is the nearby hypothalamus region of the brain or at the site of the pituitary gland. Serious head injuries, radiation treatments and treatments can also cause GHD. In this case, it is known as acquired growth hormone deficiency (AGHD). Get your kids checked at a reputed Paediatric Endocrinology Hospital for the best treatment.
2. Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency
Children with GHD have younger, rounder faces and are shorter than their peers. And even though their body proportions are normal, they may also be chubby or have “baby fat” around the abdomen. GHD’S main symptom is delayed puberty if it develops later in a child’s life, such as from a tumour or a brain injury. Sexual development is halted in some instances.
Due to developmental delays such as short stature or a slow rate of maturing, many teens with GHD experience low self-esteem. For instance, young men’s voices may not change at the same rate as their peers and young women may not develop breasts. Another symptom of AGHD is reduced bone strength. This may result in more frequent fractures, particularly in older adults. People with lower than normal GH levels may lack stamina, feel tired and also experience sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. Slow height growth each year after a child's 3rd birthday is the main symptom of GH deficiency. This means that they have a less than 3.5 cm growth in height (about 1.4 inches) a year says Child Specialist Coimbatore. A child with GH deficiency may also have:
- A younger-looking face
- A chubby body build
- Impaired hair growth
- Delayed puberty
3. How Is Growth Hormone Deficiency Diagnosed?
If your child is not meeting their height and weight milestones, your child’s doctor will look for signs of GHD. Paediatric Endocrinologists in Coimbatore inquire after your growth rate as you approached puberty, and they will also ask about your other children’s growth rates. Several tests can confirm the diagnosis if they subject GHD. The growth hormone in the body can be measured by a blood test. However, a blood test with a lower-than-normal result is less than enough evidence to make a diagnosis. The level of bone growth can be indicated by an X-Ray of your child’s hand. You can determine how the body is producing and using hormones with kidney and thyroid function tests. An MRI imaging scan can provide a detailed look inside the brain if your doctor suspects damage to the pituitary gland or a tumour.
CT scans use a set of X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body and it can visualize bones, muscles, fat, and organs. They are more detailed than regular X-rays. You can determine if the pituitary condition was brought on by an injury or tumour or present at birth.
4. How Is Growth Hormone Deficiency Treated?
Growth hormone is available only as a daily injection into the fat underneath the skin. However, there are some injection devices available that do not involve needles. This injection is usually given in the evening to let it fall in sync with the body's natural cycle for producing growth hormone. Experts must monitor the correct dose, and the advice on the most appropriate injection device is very important. The dose prescribed varies from patient to patient, depending on the weight and size of the child. Children receive daily injections of growth hormone. Although results are often seen as soon as 3-4 months after the injections are started, the treatment usually lasts for several years. The sooner the treatment for GHD begins, the better chance the child will have of attaining his/her near-normal or normal adult height. However, not all children respond positively to growth hormone treatment. Growth hormone injected into the body’s fatty tissues, such as the thighs and it is most efficient as a daily treatment. Side effects, while generally minor, but may include: redness at the injection site, headaches, hip pain and a curving of the spine (scoliosis) Long-term growth hormone injections in rare cases may contribute to the development of diabetes, particularly applicable to people with a family history of that disease.
5. Getting and Giving GH Injections
Children ages 10 and up may be able to and often prefer to give themselves their injections since GH injections are quick and almost pain-free. A parent should supervise the injection to ensure that the child gives themselves the correct dosage each day. Younger children should be given the injection by their parents or doctors at a paediatric endocrinology hospital. GH treatment is more effective when taken at bedtime because the natural growth hormone is released mainly during sleep in children. Once you and your child get used to giving GH injections, it becomes just another daily habit. Here are some tips that you should know when you start GH therapy:
GH must be refrigerated at 36 to 42° F. If you let it get too hot or too cold, its effectiveness will decrease. You may place it back into the refrigerator and continue to use it if left overnight.
Keep it in the cooler provided in the starter kit for up to 10 hours when travelling. Then put on ice after 10 hours. Make sure to not place the GH pens directly into the ice. Keep them separate by placing the pen in a Ziploc bag.
Time of Day
Try to give the GH injection consistently within an hour timeframe. For example, give it between 9 and 10 p.m. every night. Do not make up for injections that you might’ve missed.
Rotate 4 of the 8 possible injection sites each time. The site's top or outside of thighs, is back of arms, outer quadrant of buttocks and sides of the belly. To keep track of expiration dates and how many injections have been used out of each cartridge, document when you use a new cartridge.
6. Is Growth Hormone Therapy Safe?
There are a few side effects to growth hormone therapy although growth hormone injections are relatively safe and effective. The serious side effects are fortunately rare. The most common side effects are swelling, numbness, and joint and muscle aches. They will adjust the quantity of growth hormone you're taking. The symptoms should go away on their own once the dose is adjusted. People who have tumors or cancer should not take growth hormone injections. People who have multiple injuries from trauma, are seriously ill or have severe breathing problems should also not take growth hormone injections.
7. Other Treatments for Growth Hormone Deficiency
You may need other treatments for growth hormone deficiency in addition to growth hormone therapy. Mental and emotional therapy is often an important part of the growth hormone treatment. A psychologist or a mental health counsellor can talk you through your feelings. He/she teaches you how to cope with growth hormone deficiency. Important parts of an overall growth hormone deficiency treatment plan also include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and regularly exercising.
Lesli is a Content Writer and loves to blog about health-related articles particularly about fertility care. She enjoys learning and specializes in guest blogging, blog publishing, and social media. She is an avid reader and loves writing impeccable content pertaining to health care. She holds a bachelor's degree in Engineering.