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Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children

Updated on December 25, 2015

The Differences Can Be Dramatic

Most children with growth hormone deficiency grow less than 2 inches per year, but in this case the child on the left is much shorter than a child of the same age
Most children with growth hormone deficiency grow less than 2 inches per year, but in this case the child on the left is much shorter than a child of the same age | Source

What is Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD)?

Growth hormone is what allows a child to grow. Lack of growth hormone can also cause problems with bone strength, muscle development, emotional symptoms such as fatigue, lack of endurance, or motivation. Children with growth hormone deficiency may also have delayed tooth eruption (keep baby teeth much longer than normal) or delayed onset of puberty. Growth hormone deficiency can be caused by several factors such as:

  1. Present at birth
  2. Result of a medical condition such as hypothyroidism
  3. Severe brain injury
  4. Physical problems of face and skull such as cleft lip or cleft palate

Most of the time to cause of growth hormone deficiency is unknown.

Symptoms of growth hormone deficiency in children include:

  1. Short stature
  2. Low growth velocity for age
  3. Increased amount of fat around waist
  4. Appearing much younger than actual age
  5. Delayed tooth development
  6. Lack of endurance
  7. Delay in onset of puberty

A child’s height and weight should be tracked at least annually by a primary care physician. They will enter these numbers on a growth chart. Children with growth hormone deficiency will have a slow or flat rate of growth, or will fall from one percentile to a lower percentile over a period of time. Some kids are so small their numbers do not even fall on the chart. Slow growth may not show up until the child is 2 or 3 years old, however, children between 8-10 years of age are at risk as well. Often (but not always) the child will have normal body proportions.

Twins - Child on Left Has GHD

These twins on the left at age 12. You can see the smaller girl looks much younger than her twin as well as being significantly shorter. After treatment the girls appear much closer to the same age, and are closer to height.
These twins on the left at age 12. You can see the smaller girl looks much younger than her twin as well as being significantly shorter. After treatment the girls appear much closer to the same age, and are closer to height. | Source

Examples of Growth Charts of Children with GHD

This growth chart indicates that the child was at the 75th percentile at 3 years of age and slowly fell to under the 5th percentile by age 9. This occurs very gradually, but is still indicative of a growth hormone issue and should be evaluated.
This growth chart indicates that the child was at the 75th percentile at 3 years of age and slowly fell to under the 5th percentile by age 9. This occurs very gradually, but is still indicative of a growth hormone issue and should be evaluated. | Source
The top green portion of this chart shows a child on the smaller side since he was 2 years of age about the 5th percentile. The weight is indicated on the bottom portion of the chart. By 10 years of age this child was falling below the norms for the
The top green portion of this chart shows a child on the smaller side since he was 2 years of age about the 5th percentile. The weight is indicated on the bottom portion of the chart. By 10 years of age this child was falling below the norms for the | Source

Monitor Your Child's Height

Monitor your child's height, if you have concerns regarding their height talk to your primary care physician. If a concern is noted, they will refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist for further testing. See the next article on treatment of pediatric growth hormone deficiency.

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    • Carl Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Lane 

      2 years ago from Columbia, MO

      This photo came from a physcian's office set of photos and was used with permisison

    • profile image

      Tashika 

      2 years ago

      Hello. May I know from where you got the above twin girls' photograph? I'd like to use it in a poster I'm making on GHD, and would like to ask your kind permission to use this.

      Thanks.

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