Growth hormone deficiency (GHD)

Overview

When a child is diagnosed with GHD, it means that their body is not producing enough growth hormone, so they are not growing the way they should. GHD affects about 1 in every 30,000 children per year.

Cause

In GHD, the portions of the brain responsible for stimulating and secreting growth hormone may not be working properly, or could be damaged. In other cases, GHD can be caused by a hormone imbalance. This means that growth hormone is not released in high enough levels to stimulate normal growth.

Symptoms

The first sign of GHD is that children are shorter than expected for their age. GHD can occur at any time from birth, and sometimes isn’t diagnosed until adulthood. New born babies may have hypoglycaemia and/or prolonged jaundice, as well as a traumatic delivery. Children may have particularly small hands and feet, and more fat on the chest and tummy. Growth hormone is also crucial for bone development and healthy muscles, so this may also be impacted in children with GHD.

Diagnosis

It is crucial that GHD is diagnosed as soon as possible to ensure that children can get the right treatment to help them grow and reach a normalised height at adulthood.

Little girl typing numbers on calculator

Growth calculator

It is important to keep track of your child’s growth in order to identify if there is a problem early on. We recommend measuring your child every 6 months, which is now easier, with our simple to use growth calculator.

Male and female patients waiting in corridor of medical centre

Talking to your doctor about child growth

If you are concerned about your own or your child’s growth, you should speak to a doctor. This section will help you with what questions to ask, so that you can be prepared.

Related

Idiopathic short stature (ISS)

ISS is a term used to cover a wide range of conditions that are associated with short stature. Idiopathic generally refers to a condition which arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown. These conditions are difficult to diagnose and are often caused by unknown genetic factors.

Skeletal dysplasias

Growth in children is a sensitive indicator of health, nutrition and genetic background. Growth is regulated by several factors, and any fault in these factors can lead to a growth impairment. Skeletal dysplasias are a group of anomalies occurring from birth, which affect cartilage and/or bone growth. Skeletal dysplasias can occur in approximately 1 in 5,000 births.