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Know the basics of growth hormone deficiency
Posted on Jul 09, 2015
Growth hormone deficiency is a condition in which the body doesn’t create enough growth hormone. Growth hormone is a hormone which stimulates growth and cell reproduction in the body. Pituitary gland produces this hormone which is located at the base of your brain, and then released into the blood. When your pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone, your growth can slow leading to dwarfism. Generally, dwarfism can be classified into two categories:
  1. Disproportionate dwarfism: It is a condition where body size is disproportionate. Some parts of the body are small, and others are of average size or above-average size. Disorders causing disproportionate dwarfism affect the development of bones.
  2. Proportionate dwarfism: A body is small if all parts of the body are small to the same degree and appear to be proportioned like a body of average stature.

Symptoms of Disproportionate dwarfism

Most people with disproportionate dwarfism have a very short trunk and shortened limbs. The head is disproportionately large compared with the body. The most common cause of dwarfism is a disorder called achondroplasia, which causes disproportionately short stature. It results in:
  • An average-size trunk
  • Short arms and legs, with particularly short upper arms and upper legs
  • Short fingers, often with a wide separation between the middle and ring fingers
  • Limited mobility at the elbows
  • A disproportionately large head, with a prominent forehead and a flattened bridge of the nose
  • Progressive development of bowed legs
  • Progressive development of swayed lower back

Symptoms of Proportionate dwarfism

Proportionate dwarfism results from medical conditions present at birth or appearing in early childhood that restrict overall development. So the head, trunk and limbs are all small, but they’re proportionate to each other. Symptoms of proportionate dwarfism include:
  • Growth rate slower than expected for age
  • Delayed or no sexual development during the teen years

Causes of dwarfism

  • Achondroplasia: Most of the people with achondroplasia are born to parents of average height. A person with achondroplasia and with two average-size parents received one mutated copy of the gene associated with the disorder and one normal copy of the gene. A person with the disorder may pass along either a mutated or normal copy to his or her own children.
  • Turner syndrome: It is a condition that affects only girls and women, wherein, a sex chromosome (the X chromosome) is absent or partially absent.
  • Growth hormone deficiency: Growth hormone deficiency can sometimes be linked to a genetic mutation or injury, but for most people with the disorder, no cause can be identified.

Treatment for dwarfism

Most dwarfism treatments don’t increase height but may relieve problems caused by complications.

Surgical treatments: Surgical procedure may help in
  • Correcting the direction in which bones are growing
  • Stabilizing the shape of the spine
  • Increasing the size of the vertebrae to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord
Limb lengthening: Some dwarfism patients choose to undergo surgery called extended limb lengthening. This procedure carries high risks. The surgery is recommended only when the person with dwarfism is old enough.
Hormone therapy: For dwarfism patients, treatment with injections of a synthetic version of the hormone may increase final height. Children receive daily injections for several years in most of the cases. The treatment may continue throughout the teen years and early adulthood.

Regular checkups and ongoing care by an endocrinologist experienced in dealing with dwarfism can improve quality of life. Adults with dwarfism should continue to be checked and treated for problems that occur throughout life.
Written by : Lazoi Team
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