Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a medical condition, most common in children. It occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone. It is a disorder that affects
about 1 in 7,000 people. Also known as pituitary dwarfism, GHD can be present at birth or developed later in life in both males and females.
The pituitary gland is a small gland about the size of a pea located at the base of the brain.
When it does not release enough growth hormone, normal growth is hindered and children grow at a slower rate.
Concerned parents may wonder if their child is growing at a normal pace.
While growth rates differ significantly from child to child, average or “normal” growth is often described as:
If your child is less than the 3 rd percentile in height (using growth charts from your pediatrician), you may consider an appointment with Dr. Joshua Smith, our pediatric endocrinologist.
Along with slow growth, other symptoms may include:
*It is important to note that it has been well established that growth hormone deficiency has no effect on a child’s intelligence.
Because symptoms will vary from child to child and may resemble other conditions, an appointment with Dr. Joshua Smith will be helpful. With his board certification in pediatric endocrinology, he can appropriately test for growth hormone deficiency and provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
When GHD is present at birth, it is known as congenital GHD. When the condition occurs later in life, it is known as acquired GHD. Acquired GHD may be the result of trauma, infection, radiation therapy, or tumor growth in the brain. A third category, called idiopathic GDH, has no known or diagnosable cause.
If your child seems to be short in stature or showing symptoms of growth hormone deficiency, you will be relieved to know that GHD is treatable! Children who are diagnosed early typically recover very well. However, if the condition is left untreated, it can result in permanent shorter-than-average height.
By taking a thorough patient health history, performing a physical exam and laboratory tests, Dr. Joshua Smith will look for indicators of GHD and other conditions. If he suspects a tumor or other damage to the pituitary gland, other tests may be ordered like an MRI imaging scan.
This testing will help him isolate the condition and provide an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment for GHD includes the replacement of growth hormone. Growth hormone replacement is most effective when given in daily growth hormone injections. The treatment is typically given until the child completes puberty; however, some people require treatment throughout their lives.
If your child is experiencing GHD symptoms, call Dr. Joshua Smith or fill out the form below to request an appointment. Dr. Smith is the region’s only specialist in pediatric endocrinology and is specifically trained to properly diagnose and treat growth hormone deficiency.