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Use of growth hormone in children.

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  • 1Biochemistry, Endocrinology and Metabolism Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK.


The introduction of recombinant DNA-derived human growth hormone (rhGH) in the mid-1980s allowed studies to be undertaken in a number of growth disorders other than the classic indication--growth-hormone deficiency (GHD). In patients with GHD, optimizing the dose and frequency of rhGH administration, and early instigation of therapy, has led to near-normalization of final height. The use of rhGH in the treatment of Turner syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, intrauterine growth restriction, and chronic renal failure demonstrated the efficacy of therapy, although the increase in final height (5-7 cm) is less than that achieved in GHD. Cost-benefit implications need to be considered in the next phases of evaluating the role of rhGH therapy in these indications. To date, rhGH has only received approval for the management of idiopathic short stature in the US; as with the other wider growth indications, the lack of formal randomized, controlled trials hampers the full evaluation of efficacy, and a cautious approach should, therefore, be adopted for this particular indication. rhGH has a good safety record, although there are current concerns about the possible long-term increased risk of colonic and lymphatic malignancy, which will require monitoring through national cancer registries.

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