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Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) is a medical condition that results when the body does not produce enough growth hormone.
GH is produced by the pituitary gland, which is a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. Another gland, the hypothalamus, regulates the release of GH from the pituitary. In people with GHD, the pituitary or hypothalamus glands aren’t functioning properly, which can prevent growth, weight gain and the development of strong bones. This means the extra amount that is needed for normal growth then needs to be given.2
In most cases of GHD, there is no known cause. In other cases, it may be present at birth, the result of a medical condition or caused by damage to the pituitary or hypothalamus gland from brain injury. Children with cleft lip or cleft palate may also have decreased growth hormone levels.3
Children with GHD have a slow or flat rate of growth, which may not become apparent until a child is 2 to 3 years old. A child with GHD has normal skeletal proportions and intelligence.4
Other symptoms include:
There are several tests that are used to diagnose GHD, including the Insulin Tolerance Test (considered the gold standard), the Arginine test, the Glucagon test, and the GH-releasing hormone test. Each test usually takes about 2 to 3 hours and is done on an outpatient basis in a hospital or clinic.
Growth hormone (GH) therapy is used to help children with GHD to grow. The goal of GH therapy is to help your child reach their full height potential. Giving GH injections as prescribed may help to restore your child’s normal growth and reach their maximum final adult height.
GH can be administered at home using different types of devices, including:
As with any medication, side effects can happen. Be sure to consult the leaflet in the box that comes with the medicine to understand possible side effects. Talk to your healthcare team if you have any questions or concerns.