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Growth hormone deficiency - children

  • Definition

    Growth hormone deficiency refers to abnormally short height in childhood due to the lack of growth hormone.

    See also: Short stature

    Alternative Names

    Panhypopituitarism; Pituitary dwarfism; Recombinant human GH (rhGH); Acquired growth hormone deficiency; Congenital growth hormone deficiency; Somatropin

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.

    • Different hormones made in the brain tell the pituitary gland how much growth hormone is needed.
    • Growth hormone enters the blood and stimulates the liver to produce a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which plays a key role in childhood growth.

    Abnormally short height in childhood (called short stature) may occur if not enough growth hormone is produced.

    Most of the time, no single clear cause of growth hormone deficiency is found.

    • Growth hormone deficiency may be present at birth (congenital)
    • It may also develop after birth, as the result of a brain injury, tumor, or medical condition

    Children with physical defects of the face and skull, such as cleft lip or cleft palate, are more likely to have decreased growth hormone levels.

    Growth hormone deficiency is usually not passed from parent to child.

    Although it is uncommon, growth hormone deficiency may also be diagnosed in adults. Possible causes include:

    • Brain radiation treatments for cancer
    • Hormonal problems involving the pituitary gland or hypothalamus
    • Severe head injury