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Ann Hematol. 2003 Oct;82(10):637-40. Epub 2003 Jul 31.

Growth hormone (GH) deficiency in patients with beta-thalassemia major and the efficacy of recombinant GH treatment.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, China Medical College Hospital, 2 Yuh-Der Road, 404 Taichung, Taiwan.


Patients with beta-thalassemia major still suffer growth retardation. After excluding patients with cortisol deficiency, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, delayed puberty, malnutrition, severe congestive heart failure, and severely impaired liver function, 29 patients were enrolled in this study. Fifteen (52%) patients exhibited growth retardation and underwent two growth hormone (GH) provocation tests. Eight (53%) of the 15 patients had GH deficiency and were subsequently treated with subcutaneous recombinant human GH (Genotropin, Pharmacia Corporation, Sweden). Growth velocity increased from the pretreatment rate of 3.1+/-0.4 cm/year to 7.1+/-1.6 cm/yr (p<0.001) after 1 year and to 6.8+/-1.3 cm/year (p<0.001) after 2 years. Patients with growth retardation had lower insulin like growth factor-1 (p=0.001) and insulin like growth factor binding protein-3 (p=0.003) levels than those without growth retardation. In patients with beta-thalassemia major, growth retardation is a common complication and GH deficiency plays an important role. Thalassemic patients with GH deficiency can safely increase their growth velocity with recombinant human GH for 2 years; however, the effect on final height still needs to be determined.

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