The Cause

Usually, the health condition is a birth defect that is caused by an abnormal formation in the body of the baby as a result of damages in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. Note that if the health condition is developed before a baby is born; it is known as congenital GHD. In some cases, the health condition can develop after birth as well and is known as acquired GHD. In the case of congenital GHD, it mainly occurs when gene mutations occur in the factors that are significant for the secretion of growth hormones.

Actually, the cause of congenital GHD is unknown in most cases. Furthermore, children born with cleft palates or cleft lips are more likely to have poorly developed pituitary glands. Clearly, the chance for such kids to develop GHD is more when compared to normal kids.

The acquired growth hormone deficiency, on the other hand, can result from several potential factors and some of those factors are listed below.

  • A brain tumor in the pituitary gland.
  • Diseases such as histiocytosis that break the connection of hypothalamus to the pituitary gland or infiltrate the hypothalamus.
  • Head trauma.
  • Radiation therapies to the areas including pituitary gland and hypothalamus; this is usually done in case of brain cancer treatments.
  • Lymphocytic hypophysitis, which is an autoimmune condition.
  • Serious infections.

Note that GHD is only one of the many health conditions that can affect the growth of a child. That is, the short stature of your kid can be a result of many other underlying health issues or syndromes such as hypothyroidism, gastrointestinal disorders, low nutritional intake, etc.

The Symptoms

Identifying the symptoms of GHD is a bit harder as not every child grows at a similar pace. Some children might grow faster, whereas, some others might take their time. Sadly, complications will get worse in case of delayed treatment. Some of the common and notable signs of GHD other than slow growth or short stature with normal body proportions that you may look for include:

  • Immature physique when compared to the kids of the same age.
  • Chubby body.
  • Underdeveloped nasal bridge.
  • A prominent forehead.
  • Rounder face.
  • Baby fat around the abdomen.
  • Delayed puberty.

Apart from the physical symptoms, the affected children may exhibit a number of psychological symptoms as well and some of those symptoms are listed below.

  • Inability to concentrate on things.
  • Bouts of emotional stress or anxiety.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Poor memory.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The health condition is mainly diagnosed by checking for the potential symptoms. Plus, blood tests, kidney and thyroid tests, MRI imaging scan, etc., will be recommended by your doctor depending on the condition. When it comes to the treatment part, growth hormones are injected to the fatty tissues in the body of the affected child. Even though this daily treatment is really effective, it can have some minor complications such as headaches, hip pain, scoliosis, etc. In rare cases, the long term treatments can result in diabetes, especially if the child has a family medicine history of the disease.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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