Child growth hormone deficiency occurs when a child is significantly below the average in height when compared with other children of the same sex and age. The cause of short stature is often unknown, however there are several factors that may contribute to it. Growth hormone replacement therapy will increase the chance of the child growing to a near normal adult height.
Some children are born with the growth hormone deficiency, while others develop it from an injury or medical condition. Growth hormone deficiency can be caused by an accident that results in severe brain damage. The deficiency can also be caused by facial or skull birth defects, including cleft lip or cleft palate.
If not detected at birth, your child’s pediatrician will likely notice a very slow growth curve when you bring him in for his regular check-ups. Children typically grow about 4 inches in their first year of life and 3 inches each year after that. Depending on your child’s growth rate, it may take until he is 2 or 3 years old for him to be diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency.
If your child was suspected of growth hormone deficiency and tests were conducted to confirm the prognosis, treatment is available through growth hormone injections. The shots are usually given once a day. Rare side effects include head aches, muscle/joint aches, fluid retention, and loose hip bones. The earlier the treatment is started, the more likely the child will grow into an average-height adult. Growth hormone therapy doesn’t work for all children. However, if left untreated the child will remain shorter than average and likely experience delayed puberty from a deficiency in hormones.