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Growth Hormone Deficiency

Abstract

You are reading a NORD Rare Disease Report Abstract. NORD’s full collection of reports on over 1200 rare diseases is available to subscribers (click here for details). We are now also offering two full rare disease reports per day to visitors on our Web site.

NORD is very grateful to Joe Head, NORD Intern and Richard A. Levy, MD, Director of Pediatric Endocrinology Section, Rush University, for their assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Growth Hormone Deficiency

  • No synonyms found.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • acquired GHD
  • congenital GHD
  • idiopathic GHD

General Discussion

Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a rare disorder characterized by the inadequate secretion of growth hormone (GH) from the anterior pituitary gland, a small gland located at the base of the brain that is responsible for the production of several hormones. GHD can be present from birth (congenital), resulting from genetic mutations or from structural defects in the brain. It can also be acquired later in life as a result of trauma, infection, radiation therapy, or tumor growth within the brain. A third category has no known or diagnosable cause (idiopathic).

Childhood-onset GHD may be all three: congenital, acquired, or idiopathic. It results in growth retardation, short stature, and maturation delays reflected by the delay of lengthening of the bones of the extremities that is inappropriate to the chronological age of the child.

Adult-onset GHD is most often is acquired from a pituitary tumor or trauma to the brain but may also be idiopathic. It is characterized by a number of variable symptoms including reduced energy levels, altered body composition, osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density), reduced muscle strength, lipid abnormalities such as increased LDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, and impaired cardiac function. Treatment for GHD requires daily injections of recombinant human growth hormone (rHGH).

Patients with GHD that have no known cause are diagnosed as having idiopathic GHD. Genetic tests may reveal a congenital anomaly, but are often considered unnecessary after confirmation of GHD since they will have no effect on treatment. However, it is recommended that children be retested for GHD when they transition from pediatric to adult care since GH levels may normalize upon reaching adulthood. The level of GH considered normal for an adult is much lower than that for a child, especially one undergoing the pubertal growth spurt.

Growth Hormone Deficiency Resources

Organizations:

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