Growth Hormone Deficiency

Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a disorder that involves the pituitary gland (a gland located at the base of the brain). This gland produces the growth hormone as well as other hormones. When the pituitary gland fails to produce enough growth hormone, growth will be slower than normal, leading to the medical condition. Growth hormone is required for normal growth in children. In adults, growth hormone is essential to maintain the proper amount of body fat, muscle and bone. Low or lack of growth hormone in adults can also result in emotional symptoms such as tiredness and lack of motivation. Most adults with growth hormone deficiency have a history of pituitary tumors that may have been earlier treated with radiation or surgery.

Growth Hormone Deficiency Symptoms

A total growth hormone deficiency is often discovered in a child’s infancy. Initially at birth, the height and weight of the infant are typical. However, between 3 to 9 months, the child’s growth rate will be reduced.

Symptoms in Children

  • Low growth velocity (speed) and pubertal stage
  • Short stature
  • Increased amount of fat around the waist
  • Delayed puberty
  • Delayed development of tooth

Symptoms in Adults

  • Decreased strength during exercises
  • Low energy levels
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Weight gain mostly around the waist
  • Thin and dry skin
  • Feeling of anxiety, depression or sadness
  • Change in social behavior

Growth Hormone Deficiency Causes

There is no known cause of growth hormone deficiency in children. However, in adults the most common cause is due to low levels of growth hormone in the pituitary gland, tumors, or other syndromes.

  • Congenital
  • Mutations of genes
  • Other medical condition
  • Brain injury

Growth Hormone Deficiency Diagnosis

Below you will find the proper ways to diagnose a case of growth hormone deficiency.

  • A physical examination of one’s height, body weight and proportions, will show signs of slowed growth rate. The child will not necessarily follow the normal growth curves.
  • An X-ray can determine bone age. The size and shape of bones do change as a person grows. These conspicuous changes can be seen on an x-ray and usually follow a pattern of the growth of a child. Testing is done after the doctor has looked at other causes of poor growth.
  • A Stimulation test can help measure the growth factors in the body such as insulin-like growth factors and proteins.
  • Similarly, tests, to measure more hormone levels, may be done to the lack of growth hormone may not be the only problem present.

Growth Hormone Deficiency Treatment

When an individual experiences symptoms of growth hormone deficiency, certain treatments are used to replace the low levels of hormones in the body. Typically, treatments are given through injections.

  • Replacement therapy
  • Growth hormone injections