Treatments for Hypopituitarism in Children

At Boston Children's Hospital, a diagnosis of hypopituitarism is a starting point for long-term healing: Now that your child's condition has been positively identified, your child's doctor will begin the process of returning your child to good health. From your very first visit, you'll work closely with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting your entire family's journey through treatment.

Treating hypopituitarism depends both on its cause and on which hormones are missing. The goal of treatment is to restore normal levels of hormones. Treating the underlying condition that's causing your child's hypopituitarism often leads to a full recovery.

Since your child's body is unable to make some or all of these missing hormones, life-long hormone replacement therapy is necessary. Replacement therapy needs to be monitored and adjusted, but the extent of your child's pituitary deficiency will determine how often he will need to see his doctor.

  • Growth hormone is replaced with man-made growth hormone that's administered by an injection.
  • Adrenocorticotropin deficiency results in cortisol deficiency, which is replaced with a glucocorticoid, generally in pill form taken two to three times a day throughout your child's life. If your child has a fever, serious injury, or needs surgery, the dose is increased temporarily and the medication may be given more often. If the medicine cannot be taken orally in an emergency, it must be injected or given rectally.
  • Thyrotropin (TSH) deficiency results in thyroid hormone deficiency, which is replaced with levothyroxine. It is available in pill form and is taken daily throughout your child's life.
  • Gonadotropin deficiency requires the replacement of estrogen or testosterone, timed with the onset of puberty. Adolescent girls are given estrogen replacement by patch (applied weekly or twice weekly) or pill (taken daily); progesterone is added after about two years. These hormones mimic the way the ovaries would produce hormones and will generate a menstrual period at the end of each cycle. After periods start, sometimes girls change their treatment to oral contraceptive pills. Males are given testosterone replacement by an injection every two to four weeks; by a gel applied to the shoulders, upper arms, and/or abdomen; or by patch.
  • Antidiuretic hormone(ADH) or vasopressin is replaced with desmopressin (DDAVP), which can be administered by tablet or inhaled through the nose.

While there are many potential side effects, researchers generally agree that hormone replacement therapy is safe and effective.

Coping and support

You may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with hypopituitarism. We've tried to provide some answers to those questions on this site, but there are also a number of other resources to guide you and your family through diagnosis and treatment.

Patient education: From the first office visit, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have. They will also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Children's.

Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose child has been treated for hypopituitarism? We can often put you in touch with other families who have been through the same treatments that you and your child are facing, and can share their experience .

Social work: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as stresses relating to hypopituitarism and dealing with financial difficulties.

On our For Patients and Families site, you can read all you need to know about:

  • getting to Children's
  • accommodations
  • navigating the hospital experience
  • resources that are available for your family
Compassionate caregiver
For more than 20 years, Johney Taylor has baked, sautéed, stewed and roasted his signature spice-laden dishes for Boston Children's Hospital's patients and employees. By now, he's used to getting compliments from the Café's customers about the inspired cuisine, but he's always on the lookout for patients who don't seem to be impressed by the day's offerings. Read about how he brightened one boy's mornings.