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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2000 Spring;10(1):3-8.

Pilot study of growth hormone administration during the refeeding of malnourished anorexia nervosa patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, A.B. Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40509-1810, USA.



In anorexia nervosa (AN), medical stabilization and nutritional repletion are pivotal steps toward physical and psychological recovery. Nutritional stabilization is often difficult in this patient group. Recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) has been safely used as adjuvant therapy in other groups of malnourished patients. We hypothesize that rhGH treatment will hasten medical stabilization in AN patients.


Fifteen patients admitted for inpatient treatment for AN, ages 12-18 years, were enrolled in a 28-day randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Patients received rhGH (0.05 mg/kg subcutaneously) or an equivalent volume of placebo daily. Outcome measures included time to reach medical/cardiovascular stability, rate of weight gain, and duration of hospitalization. All patients received a standard refeeding protocol.


Mean admission body mass index was 14.5 kg/m2. The rhGH and placebo groups did not differ significantly in admission weight, BMI or daily caloric intake. Patients treated with rhGH reached medical/cardiovascular stability more rapidly than those treated with placebo (median 17 vs. 37 days, p = 0.02). Numerical but not statistically significant improvements were seen in weight gain and length of hospitalization in the rhGH group.


Patients treated with rhGH achieved medical/cardiovascular stability more rapidly than those treated with placebo, and this, in turn, decreased the length of stay.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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