Growth hormone deficiency is a disease in which the pituitary gland does not produce enough growth hormone. It may result in growth failure and other problems with the development in both children and adults. This disorder affects one in 3,480 children in the United States, while adults are less likely to have growth hormone deficiency. Although growth hormone deficiency is a serious disease associated with some profound implications, it often can be safely and effectively treated by rHGH therapy.
Causes of Growth Deficiency
Growth hormone deficiency can be found in both newly born children and older children. The first case is called congenital growth hormone deficiency, while the second one is known as acquired deficiency. The causes of congenital growth hormone deficiency are often genetical and relate to mutation of specific genes.
Although rarer than children, adults also may face growth deficiency. The causes of growth hormone deficiency in older children and adults include:
- brain surgery;
- serious brain traumas;
- radiation treatment to the brain.
Symptoms and Effects
In children, the main effects of growth hormone deficiency is that the child is shorter and looks younger as compared to the average. The symptoms of growth deficiency in children also involve:
- Lower height of a patient.
- Delayed puberty.
- Slower muscular development.
- Increased body fat.
- Problems with hair growth, bone density, and tooth development.
Adults who suffer from growth deficiency share similar effects, which are expanded also by:
- Lower sex drive.
- Reduced muscle mass, strength, and stamina.
- Lower energy.
- Problems with concentration and memory loss.
How to Fight Growth Deficiency
The most widespread method of treating growth deficiency in both children and adults is growth hormone therapy. Before 1985, artificial growth hormone was extracted from the pituitary glands of fresh cadavers through autopsy. This method was costly, provided treatment only for a limited number of children, and carried some mortal health risks for the treated patients.
At the same time, scientists of the corporation Genentech created synthetic HGH, known as recombinant DNA-derived human GH (rHGH). It was developed in the late 1970s and approved by the United States government in 1985 after a number of patients, who received cadaver growth hormone treatment, died from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.
The evidence shows that rHGH is a relatively safe and efficacious way of treating growth deficiency. GH therapy consists of one or several cycles of taking synthetic growth hormone, which increases the level of growth hormone in the body. Growth hormone is prescribed by a doctor, who will define the daily dose for the patient suffering from growth deficiency.
Growth hormone therapy is legal to use for children and rarely adults with growth deficiency. In the recent years, more and more healthy adults started to use rHGH for the purposes not related to the disease, such as muscle gain or weight loss. Although the practice shows that HGH can help athletes and other people significantly develop their bodies, such use of growth hormone is not legal yet, partly because its side effects have not been studied enough.