Growth Hormone Deficiency
What is GHD
Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) is a condition caused by a severe shortage of growth hormone, sometimes even a complete absence of growth hormone. It affects between 1 in 3,000 and 1 in 10,000 people and the lack of the growth hormone will restrict the child’s growth resulting in a much lower than average height.
Why does it occur?
The exact reason for most occurances of GHD is not known, therefore they are known as an idiopathic conditions. It is not inherited and can either be present at birth or develop later in childhood.
The pituitary gland is located in the base of the brain and is responsible for producing various hormones including the one for growth. It may not have developed properly during birth which could explain the low hormone levels being produced, or it may have been affected after birth through head injury, tumours or some treatments for other conditions such as radiotherpay and surgery.
How is GHD diagnosed?
The diagnosis is confirmed by measuring the level of growth hormone production in response to a stimulation test, which generally requires a morning in hospital.
Signs & Symptoms
GHD does not affect intrauterine growth, at least not to an extent measurable by birth weight or length, but usually from around the age of two or occasionally from birth, growth is slower than normal.
A child with GHD will have short stature and look young for their age, however the body will be in proportion and they will have normal facial features and intelligence. However, prior to treatment children with GHD may be overweight as the growth hormone also controls the level of fat under the skin.
Treatment & Support
GHD is treated with a daily injection of growth hormone that replaces the hormone the body is failing to produce. During treatment it is important that height is monitored regularly and sometimes a bone scan and brain scan might be done. There are usually no side-effects but it is important to report any should they occur. For most children this treatment will result in the child reaching expected height.
Please consider calling our helpline for support and advice, we can also help put you in touch with other families with the same condition. We also have members of our Facebook Group who may be able to help you.
Facebook Support Group
The CGF run a number of closed Facebook groups, providing peer support for people directly affected by growth conditions, their parents, family and friends. These groups are a fantastic support tool. Click the image below to find the GHD Facebook group.
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