Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children

What does it mean if the endocrinologist says that your child has growth hormone deficiency, or GHD? It means that your child’s body does not make enough growth hormone. Growth hormone is needed for growth during childhood. Not enough growth hormone can cause poor growth in children.

Most children with GHD are otherwise healthy. They may show no signs of illness or other medical conditions. If growth hormone deficiency is the cause of your child’s slow growth, there are medicines that may help.

 

About growth hormone

Hormones are key factors in a child’s growth. Hormones are chemical messengers. They are made in glands and sent through the blood to other parts of the body. They deliver messages that tell the body to perform certain tasks.

One hormone that is important for a child’s growth is growth hormone. It is made by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small organ in the body. It is the size of a pea and sits in the middle of the head at the bottom of the brain, just behind the nose.

The pituitary gland sends growth hormone into the body, where it causes bone growth. Growth hormone helps the cells in a child’s bones to grow and divide.  

 

What causes GHD?

There are many possible causes of GHD. In some cases, GHD results from a birth defect and may appear in infancy. In other cases, GHD happens after birth, and may appear in later childhood. Sometimes GHD appears alone. Other times GHD happens along with other pituitary hormone deficiencies.

 

Diagnosing GHD

Before diagnosing your child with GHD, the endocrinologist will check for other causes of poor growth. Your child will be given a physical exam. The endocrinologist will review your child’s medical and family history. He or she will also look at your child’s pattern of growth and may run standard blood tests.

If your child shows no signs of other conditions, the endocrinologist may test for GHD.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.