As a parent, it is your responsibility to know about the growth and development requirements of your child. For most children, growth during the early days of life is a gradual process, so it is not easy for parents to notice growth deficiency. This is why you must be educated about human growth hormone facts. If the doctor advises human growth hormone therapy for your kid and he is diagnosed with HGH deficiency, there are a few things you need to know.
For most people, both human growth hormone treatment and deficiency can be confusing conditions. In the medical world, these two are different areas. Here we bring you the facts about HGH deficiency in children and how the treatment works.
Understanding the Human Growth Hormone in Children
The human growth hormone is excreted from the pituitary gland which is located at the base of the anterior brain. According to the Hormone Health Network, growth hormone is one of the essential development blocks for children as it aids muscle and bone strength and distribution of fat. It also controls the level of sugar and fat in the body which is why the right amount of human growth hormone is critical to ensure normal growth in children.
As per findings by the Boston Children’s Hospital, kids with not enough human growth hormone in their body can have the following symptoms:
- Immature appearance compared to kids of the same age
- Chubby body buildup
- Underdeveloped bridge of the nose
- Prominent forehead
If you notice any of these symptoms in your kid, then you need to speak to your pediatrician immediately who can better help you understand the causes behind these symptoms. You need to keep in mind that these symptoms are not exclusive to growth hormone deficiency. If needed, you might also be referred to consult a pediatric endocrinologist.
Growth Hormone Deficiency Causes
The National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD) states that growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a rare disorder that occurs in a small percentage of kids when their bloodstream does not have enough natural growth hormone that is secreted from the anterior pituitary gland. Medical science lists many reasons for GHD, but according to NORD, the main causes of GHD in children are:
- Congenital: It can be present as a birth defect due to some genetic mutation or structural anomaly of the brain.
- Acquired: GHD can also manifest later on in life as a result of severe trauma, infection, or tumor growth within the brain or due to radiation therapy.
- Idiopathic: GHD can also be caused by an undiagnosable cause.
According to NORD, GHD in children can be caused by all the three factors which can only be found after proper diagnosis. But as a parent, your responsibility is to look for some of the symptoms that NORD describes as: “growth retardation, short stature, and maturation delays reflected by the delay of lengthening of the bones of the extremities that is inappropriate to the chronological age of the child.”
This is one of the reasons to speak to your pediatrician if you notice that there is a stunted growth of the height of your child. Although it can indicate a range of issues, GHD can be one of them. You have to keep in mind that slow growth in children is not always because of growth hormone deficiency. This is why before you run to the conclusion that your kid is suffering from GHD, you need to educate yourself about the average rate of growth for children.
Here is the average growth rate in kids, as outlined by Boston Children’s Hospital:
0-12 months: about 10 inches a year
1-2 years: about 5 inches a year
2-3 years: about 3 ½ inches a year
3 years to puberty: about 2 to 2 ½ inches a year
If your child is suffering from growth hormone deficiency, then he will most probably grow less than two inches a year as explained by the Hormone Health Network.
Growth Hormone Therapy Process
Growth hormone therapy is a complicated process that is initiated by conducting a score of tests to ensure that the problems with the growth of your child are actually because of GHD. The most common tests for GHD include:
- Hand x-ray: It is done to check for bone growth which is also known as bone age where doctors assess growth potential
- Blood tests: These are done to rule out any other potential medical condition that can affect the growth
- GHD specific tests: These include the GH stimulation test, Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), and an MRI.
If your child is diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency for growth hormone therapy, then doctors will use daily injections of synthetic growth hormone. The Hormone Health Network suggests that the injections can be given at home, while growth is monitored by a pediatric endocrinologist every 3-6 months.
The best results are seen when GHD is diagnosed earlier which can make it possible for kids to grow up to four inches a year, though some children can witness slower or faster results. The exact duration of human growth hormone therapy depends on the individual and can be needed to continue into adolescence and for others into adulthood.
Growth Hormone Therapy Alternative
While HGH therapy seems to be effective for the treatment of GHD, the side effects of synthetic HGH injections are also a concern. This is why parents need to be fully informed about growth hormone therapy and underlying risks.
Oral HGH supplements like GenF20 Plus offer safer alternatives to synthetic injections. These supplements are natural growth hormone boosters that are proven to improve growth. You can consult your pediatrician about the use of oral HGH supplements to deal with the slower growth and development of your child.
Apart from supplements, some natural remedies can also be helpful such as proper nutrition and a calculated diet. The most important precaution for you to take as a parent is to educate yourself about growth problems in kids. The earlier you identify the symptoms of growth hormone deficiency, the easier it will be to deal with it and give your child the best chance to have normal growth.