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J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Apr;17(4):637-43.

Growth hormone secretion and long-term growth data in children with psychosocial short stature treated by different changes in environment.

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  • 1Zentrum für Kinderheilkunde der Universität Bonn, Bonn, Germany.



We assessed auxological and endocrine data of 65 children (32 girls) from 51 families with an average age of 6.6 years (range, 0.9 to 16.5 years, all but five prepubertal) with psychosocial short stature.


Fifty-one patients had an assessment of growth hormone (GH) secretion. Thirty-four were subjected to repeated testing with the first test being performed when the child was still in the adverse environment and the next testing after the child was removed. Twenty-five out of those 34 were repeatedly tested during one uninterrupted hospital admission with limited parental access. Thirty patients had a definite, long-term change in their environment (13 were separated from their families) and were assessed concerning their auxological data.


Of the 34 patients who had repeated endocrine testing, 11 (32%) showed reversible GH deficiency (GHD), nine (26%) increased their previously normal peak GH concentration, and six (18%) had apparently irreversible GHD. Patients who had a change in environment increased their mean height velocity SDS from -0.9 (SD 1.5) to +1.5 (2.3) (p < 0.0001). Accordingly, height SDS increased from -2.9 (SD 0.8) before to -2.6 (SD 0.8) after the change (p < 0.001).


One of the diagnostic features of psychosocial short stature is reversible GH insufficiency, which usually normalises after the child is separated from the adverse environment. Catch-up growth is always found after a positive change in the environment, and may occur within the family. However, if a change in environment is not possible, GH therapy may be an option.

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