Growth hormone therapy in children with short stature: is bigger better or achievable?

Indian J Pediatr. Sep-Oct 1996;63(5):591-7. doi: 10.1007/BF02730801.


The introduction of recombinant DNA-synthesized human growth hormone in the mid-1980s, and its attendant unlimited supply, have led to wider application of growth hormone therapy in children. Over the past decade, the efficacy of growth hormone treatment in patients with Turner syndrome and chronic renal insufficiency, two conditions in which growth hormone secretion is normal, in improving growth velocity and final height, has also led to the consideration of growth hormone therapy in children with idiopathic short stature. Although thousands of patients with idiopathic short stature are currently being treated with growth hormone, the limited overall results available at this time do not show a significant improvement in final adult height despite an improvement in short-term growth velocity. Potential reasons for this outcome include 1) skeletal age advancing more rapidly than height age, 2) heterogeneity of the patient population comprising idiopathic short stature, 3) inherent inaccuracies of methodological tools, such as measurement of predicted adult height, and 4) a subset of children with idiopathic short stature who may, in fact, have partial growth hormone insensitivity. From a psychological perspective, the consensus of investigations in non-clinic-referred populations of psychosocial function in children with short stature do not indicate a disadvantage compared with children of normal height when socio-economic status is taken into consideration. These results, in conjunction with the minimal gains reported in behavioural measurements in idiopathic short children treated with growth hormone, question the traditional rationale that augmentation of growth velocity results in improvement in psychosocial well-being.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Height / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dwarfism / drug therapy*
  • Dwarfism / etiology
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / adverse effects
  • Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Growth Hormone