All about Growth Hormones

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What is the growth hormone?

Also known as somatropin, it is produced by the pituitary gland that is found in the brain. Between its functions, it is in charge to increase the stature and the muscular mass, to reduce the corporal fat and to control the metabolism of the body.

Some people are born with a deficiency of growth hormones, which gives them different health problems. Some medications contain this hormone and can stabilize the level of somatropin and avoid such complications.

When is it needed?

Usually, it is detected that a child is not growing at the rate that should be up to three years, where the comparison with the rest makes the difference in height noticeable. To ensure that the child may need growth hormone, the doctor may perform a series of tests to find out bone age, insulin growth factor, level of somatropin secretion or other hormones, or insulin tolerance. Depending on the results, a supplement will be prescribed or not to cover the possible lack of growth hormone.

The doses are usually administered through daily injections. The treatment usually lasts several years, although the applications may vary as time passes if the doctor considers it necessary.

A treatment that begins at an early age is more likely to succeed than one that starts late. The child can reach an average height for his age if the process starts in his first years of life.

Side effects

Although they are scarce, doses of growth hormone can cause:

  • Headaches.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Joint and muscle pains.
  • Abnormalities in the bones of the hip.

Diseases that are treated with growth hormone

There are some diseases or disorders for which the use of growth hormone is usually indicated as:

Low stature with slow growth in children: it is a pathology that generally develops due to genetic causes. In the growth curves, the child appears with a percentile lower than 3.

Chronic renal failure: the kidneys are unable to filter toxins or waste from the blood.

Turner syndrome: the lack of part or all of an X chromosome, which causes short stature and delayed development.

Noonan syndrome: occurs when there is a mutation in chromosome 12, which causes short stature, heart disease, and facial malformations.

Prader-Willi syndrome: a failure in chromosome 15 causes lack of satiety, as well as problems of growth and muscle tone.

The weight loss caused by AIDS.

Short bowel syndrome.

Growth hormone is useful in infants with renal failure

The treatment with growth hormone has shown effectiveness in infants with chronic renal failure who have growth retardation despite being subjected to good metabolic and nutritional control. A clinical trial has shown the efficacy of initiating early treatment with this hormone, with no adverse effects reported.

The majority of infants with renal insufficiency have optimal growth if adequate control of their nutritional and metabolic parameters is achieved. The problem is that a small number of children do not recover growth. “Therefore, another criterion necessary for inclusion in the study was that infants did not achieve the expected development.” The indication of growth hormone is approved after two years. However, the researchers tried to check its efficacy and safety in even smaller children.

For the development of the study, two groups were formed that met the inclusion criteria. One of them was treated with growth hormone, and another was not. The follow-up period was one year. At the end of this period “we found that children who had been treated grew an average of 14.5 centimeters compared to 9.5 centimeters of untreated children, which means that treatment with growth hormone not only slows the deterioration of children with renal failure but it achieves a recovery growth above the average under normal conditions “.

Another important fact is that during the follow-up period of the trial there were no adverse effects attributable to growth hormone in the children undergoing therapy.

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