Background: Growth hormone treatment stimulates growth in short children with chronic renal failure. However, the extent to which this therapy increases final adult height is not known.
Methods: We followed 38 initially prepubertal children with chronic renal failure treated with growth hormone for a mean of 5.3 years until they reached their final adult height. The mean (+/-SD) age at the start of treatment was 10.4+/-2.2 years, the mean bone age was 7.1+/-2.3 years, and the mean height was 3.1+/-1.2 SD below normal. Fifty matched children with chronic renal failure who were not treated with growth hormone served as controls.
Results: The children treated with growth hormone had sustained catch-up growth, whereas the control children had progressive growth failure. The mean final height of the growth hormone-treated children was 165 cm for boys and 156 cm for girls. The mean final adult height of the growth hormone-treated children was 1.6+/-1.2 SD below normal, which was 1.4 SD above their standardized height at base line (P< 0.001). In contrast, the final height of the untreated children (2.1+/-1.2 SD below normal) was 0.6 SD below their standardized height at base line (P<0.001). Although prepubertal bone maturation was accelerated in growth hormone-treated children, treatment was not associated with a shortening of the pubertal growth spurt. The total height gain was positively associated with the initial target-height deficit and the duration of growth hormone therapy and was negatively associated with the percentage of the observation period spent receiving dialysis treatment.
Conclusions: Long-term growth hormone treatment of children with chronic renal failure induces persistent catch-up growth, and the majority of patients achieve normal adult height.