Growth Hormone DeficiencyGrowth hormone deficiency can affect people of any age and lead to a variety of health problems. Growth hormone is one of many vital hormones produced by the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. Various medical conditions can cause the gland to overproduce or underproduce growth hormone and create unwanted effects within the body. Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a rare, yet treatable, pituitary disorder.
Causes of Growth Hormone Deficiency
Children and adults alike can develop growth hormone deficiency in several ways. Congenital GHD is the result of a genetic mutation passed from parent to child. It can also be acquired later in life through the following conditions:
- Brain tumors
- Head trauma
- Autoimmune conditions
- Infections and diseases
- Radiation therapy
Growth hormone deficiency can also be classified as idiopathic when an exact diagnosis cannot be made.
Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency
Growth hormone deficiency is more obvious in children than adults, though it can take years for symptoms to display in children. Signs to look for include:
- Slow growth
- Being slightly overweight
- Delayed facial bone development
- Late tooth eruption
Adults affected by growth hormone deficiency may exhibit:
- Weight gain
- Decreased muscle mass
- Low energy levels
- Increased LDL cholesterol
Diagnosing Growth Hormone Deficiency
In children, growth hormone deficiency is diagnosed after other possible causes of short stature and other symptoms are ruled out. A doctor may test for GHD by stimulating growth hormone secretion and measuring its release over time, and imaging tests may also be ordered to gather more information.
Treating Growth Hormone Deficiency
Growth hormone deficiency in children is treated with regular injections of synthetic growth hormone. The earlier treatment begins, the better chance a child has of reaching normal or near-normal height in adulthood. Growth hormone therapy may also be prescribed for adults with the condition.
With extensive expertise and cutting-edge technology, Tampa General Hospital’s endocrinology team is skilled in identifying and treating growth hormone deficiency in children and adults.