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Horm Res Paediatr. 2012;77(5):277-80. doi: 10.1159/000338330. Epub 2012 May 10.

Serum prolactin concentrations in relation to hypopituitarism and obesity in children with optic nerve hypoplasia.

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Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Department of Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine of USC and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA.



The majority of children with optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH) develop hypopituitarism and many also become obese. These associated conditions are a major cause of morbidity and are possibly due to hypothalamic dysfunction. Because mild hyperprolactinemia often occurs in subjects with disorders of the hypothalamus, we examined whether hyperprolactinemia was present in children with ONH during the first 3 years of life and whether it was a marker for hypopituitarism and/or obesity.


Data were retrospectively analyzed from a registry study of children with ONH. The initial serum prolactin was obtained prior to age 36 months (n = 125) and compared with pituitary function and body mass index at age 5.


72% of subjects had an elevated initial serum prolactin and 60% had hypopituitarism. An elevated initial prolactin was associated with hypopituitarism (OR 2.58; 95% CI 1.16, 5.73), specifically with growth hormone deficiency (OR 2.77; 95% CI 1.21, 6.34). 31% of subjects had a body mass index ≥ 85th percentile, but this did not correlate with initial hyperprolactinemia.


Early hyperprolactinemia correlates with the presence of hypopituitarism in children with ONH, but it is not a reliable prognosticator of hypopituitarism. Additionally, hyperprolactinemia does not predict future weight excess.

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