What is growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) occurs when the pituitary gland—located at the base of the brain—doesn’t produce enough growth hormone, which is called somatotropin. This hormone is needed for development and growth, which keep muscles, tissues, and bones healthy.
GHD is a rare disorder that generally affects children rather than adults. Symptoms in children may include:
- Short stature
- Low growth velocity for age and pubertal stage, typically below the 3rd percentile
- Increased amount of fat around the waist
- The child may look younger than other children the same age
Symptoms in adults may include:
- Continued GHD from childhood
- Anxiety or depression
- Decreased muscle mass
What causes growth hormone deficiency?
In some cases, children are born with the condition (known as congenital GHD). Congenital GHD results from a genetic defect or error.
Individuals can also develop the condition as a child or adult (known as acquired GHD). There are various health-related issues that may cause GHD including the following:
- Hormonal problems related to the hypothalamus gland or pituitary gland
- Poor blood supply to the pituitary gland
- Severe head injury, brain tumor, infection or surgery
- Radiation treatments to the brain
How is growth hormone deficiency treated?
GHD is treated with growth hormone replacement therapy. While various brands of this medication are available on the market, they all contain somatropin which is a man-made growth hormone similar to the kind that your body makes. Growth hormone therapy is injected into the body and can be administered by the patient or a caregiver.
For more information about GHD, contact the following resources:
- The Magic Foundation