Testing & Diagnosis for Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children

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The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis. Before a growth hormone deficiency diagnosis can be made, your child's physician may have to rule out other disorders first, including genetic short stature (inherited family shortness), inadequate caloric intake, thyroid hormone deficiency and other illnesses, including gastrointestinal problems.

In addition to learning your child's complete medical history, gathering information about the heights and any health problems of your relatives and conducting a physical examination, your child's doctor may:

  • monitor your child's growth over a period of time
     
  • review the mother's pregnancy, labor and delivery
     
  • draw a small amount of blood to look for evidence of other diseases
     
  • arrange for an x-ray of your child's hand and wrist (to compare bone development with chronological age and determine growth potential)
     
  • measure amounts of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) in the blood, which are produced when the liver and other tissues are stimulated by growth hormone

Since growth hormone is produced in bursts, it is unlikely that any single blood sample will provide a definitive diagnosis.

If growth hormone deficiency is suspected, your physician may use a stimulant of growth hormone secretion (which may include vigorous exercise and/or several chemicals and medications), and measure the growth hormone release over time.

If growth hormone deficiency is diagnosed, your physician may order an MRI of the brain to look at the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

Researchers are currently working on more efficient and accurate ways of diagnosing growth hormone deficiency.

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