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Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children

  • One of the things I tell my patients is that your short stature isn't a disease. It can be a sign of a disease but, in itself, it's not a disease.

    Laurie Cohen, MD, director, Neuroendocrinology Program

    If your child has been diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency, it’s perfectly normal for you to be concerned. After all, no parent likes hearing that their child is “deficient” in anything.

    As the name implies, growth hormone deficiency results when the pituitary gland doesn't produce enough growth hormone to stimulate the body to grow. This can result in noticeably short stature in children.

    • Growth hormone deficiency may be partial (the pituitary gland produces insufficient amounts of growth hormone) or total (the pituitary gland produces no growth hormone).
    • Growth hormone deficiency may occur during infancy or later in childhood.
    • About one in 4,000 to 10,000 children have growth hormone deficiency.
    • With early detection and treatment, many of these children can reach a normal height.

    How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches growth hormone deficiency

    At Children’s, we view the diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency as an important first step to treatment—and, ultimately, to your child’s long-term health and continued growth. You can rest assured knowing your child is in capable hands.

    Our compassionate staff includes physician specialists who are experienced in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of growth hormone deficiency. And we are uniquely qualified to determine the best course of care for your child. Our child-centric approach ensures that we care for your child as a child, not just another patient.

    Because the chain of events involved in growth hormone deficiency is so complex, researchers at Children's are investigating the different events that can cause a child to have short stature. Not all of these individual defects are well understood or easy to detect with a test, making this research vital to treatment strategies. Read more.

    Our Endocrinology Program is one of the world's leading centers dedicated to caring for children and adolescents with acute and chronic endocrine and metabolic disorders. For children who suffer from growth problems, our dedicated team of doctors, nurses and other caregivers offer hope for a healthier future.

    Ranked second in Endocrinology
    Children's has been ranked second in Endocrinology in the U.S.News Media Group's 2009 edition of American's Best Children's Hospitals featured in the August issue of U.S.News & World Report.

    Reviewed by Laurie Cohen, MD
    © Children’s Hospital Boston, 2010

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO