As a parent, you may end up with a lot of unanswered question when your doctor’s prognosis is your child has a growth hormone deficiency. Often, the first thing a parent wants to know is the cause of the deficiency. Other things parents always want to know is whether hormone deficiency is dangerous and what can be done to remedy this condition. If you are a puzzled parent, here are some of the answers to your questions on child growth hormone, including deficiency and its causes.
What is a Deficiency?
Child growth hormone deficiency takes many forms, depending on the patient. Growth hormones are proteins secreted in the pituitary gland located closer to the brain’s base. It is also located close to the hypothalamus, an organ responsible for regulating the pituitary gland.
In the event that either one of these two organs is damaged, the pituitary gland won’t be able to function properly. If the body lacks most of the essential pituitary hormones, this condition is known as hypopituitarism.
What is Normal Growth?
Growth varies, but when it is viewed in terms of height, normal growth can be described as 10 inches each year for children aged 0 to 12 months, and 5 inches per year for children aged 1 to 2 years. Also, growth is considered normal if it occurs at a rate of 3.5 inches each year for children aged 2 to 3 years and 2.5 inches per year for children aged 3 years up to puberty.
For children below the 3rd percentile in relation to height, that is often a red flag indicating a deficiency in children growth hormone.
What are the Complications?
Researchers believe that there could be other complications resulting from a deficiency of children growth hormone, and this includes a decrease in bone minerals or density, increased risk of cardiovascular disease as well as decreased energy levels.
Causes of Deficiency
Deficiency in children growth hormone deficiency can arise when the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus is damaged. The damaged cause be due to a growth on the pituitary gland that formed even before childbirth (congenital) or right after the child is born (acquired).
Congenital deficiency usually occurs when there are gene mutations in factors responsible for growth and development in the pituitary gland or receptors in the growth hormone passageway. Presently, the congenital causes of most of the cases are not clear.
Acquired issues leading to deficiency result from a brain tumor latched onto the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus, a head injury, radiotherapy, a diseased hypothalamus or an autoimmune disease.
Take note that deficiency in growth hormones is one of the many issues that can cause your child not to grow properly. Stunted growth can also result because of other kinds of syndromes, decreased nutritional consumption, gastrointestinal complications, elevated metabolic rates or even hypothyroidism.
What are the Symptoms?
Growth occurs over a long period, and children have different growth rates, which makes it quite difficult to notice children growth hormone deficiency. Other noticeably poor growth coupled with average body proportions, signs of irregular growth includes an undeveloped appearance compared to other children of the same age, a chubby build, protuberant forehead, and poorly developed bridge of the nose.
While hormone deficiency doesn’t affect your child’s intelligence, these indications may bear a resemblance to other complications, so ensure you consult your child’s doctor.
How is Deficiency Diagnosed?
Assessment may involve examining your child’s bone age as well as lab tests. The doctor takes an x-ray of his left hand and wrist. However, diagnosis can’t be done based on data from a single growth hormone level check since the hormone is secreted in bursts.
Thus, the doctor will conduct hormone stimulation. Your child will be tested two hours after the doctor administers medication to stimulate the release of pituitary growth hormone. If the little hormone is secreted, then your doctor will assume that your child is hormone deficient. However, an additional test, like an MRI, is necessary because the stimulation test is not always accurate and there’s the risk of overdiagnosing a deficiency.
What you should ask your Doctor
You are primarily responsible for your child’s healthcare. So, be sure to share thoughts and observations with the doctor and ensure you fully understand the recommendations provided. If you notice signs of deficiency in your child, set up an appointment. Also, be ready with questions to ask, in case you have thought up a few.
Unfortunately, some parents tend to forget what they wanted to ask immediately they reach the hospital. It’s usually important to write them down before you set off to see your doctor. If you have a child who is a little older, you could suggest that he jot everything down. The questions you could ask include the cause of your child’s deficiency is replacement treatment necessary, side effects of the treatment, the length of time your child will be on medication as well as the amount of growth to expect.
Child growth hormone is responsible for the nature of the growth your child experiences. A deficiency of growth hormone leads to stunted growth. Nevertheless, there’s hope for extremely short people because doctors can administer treatment to encourage normal growth.