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Children's Health

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Growth Hormone Therapy Increases Kids' Height

Study Shows Therapy Is Effective Even in Children Who Aren't Deficient in Growth Hormones

Growth Hormone and Height: Second Opinion

The study is called an important one by Wayne Moore, MD, section chief of pediatric endocrinology at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics and professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Though there has been little argument in the medical community about treating children known to be deficient in growth hormone, there have been questions about whether those not deficient would gain any benefit from the treatment, he says.

The new study, he says, "proves to me conclusively that GH [growth hormone] therapy is of significant benefit in children who have non-GH deficient short stature, defined by current criteria," Moore tells WebMD.

That includes those with ISS and those born small for gestational age.

The goal of growth hormone therapy, Moore says, is to get children to their "genetic potential" in height, which is determined on an individual basis by taking into account the mother's and father's heights, and other factors.

"The effects are relatively modest," says David Allen, MD, head of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. But, he adds, "For some, 2 inches can be important." It might mean the difference, he says, between being able to drive easily, for instance, or not.

As promising as the results are, Albertsson-Wikland says the treatment is not universally recommended for all children with non-GH deficient short stature. It should only be recommended, Albertsson-Wikland says, for those predicted to have a good growth response, and only after careful discussion with the children and parents to decide if the children suffer substantially from the lack of height.

In ongoing research, the Swedish team has developed prediction models to help doctors decide which children will respond to treatment. They expect that report to be published soon.

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