Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of growth hormone treatment in severely growth retarded children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) receiving glucocorticoids.
Study design: Children with systemic and polyarticular idiopathic arthritis (22 F, 16 M) with a mean age of 10.1 years were enrolled in this controlled study. Eighteen patients (9 F, 9M; mean age, 10.5 years) received growth hormone in a dose of 0.20 to 0.33 mg/kg body weight per week for 4 years. Twenty patients (13 F, 7 M; mean age, 9.6 years) served as an untreated control group.
Results: Mean improvement in height in the treated group was 1 SD, whereas the patients of the control group lost 0.7 SD. Disease activity markers correlated significantly with the mean growth velocity standard deviation score. In general, children with mild or moderate disease and lower comedication grew and responded better to growth hormone therapy than those with active disease. No adverse events were noted.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that long-term growth hormone therapy has a beneficial effect in children with severe forms of JIA. Further data are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of growth hormone and its effect on final height.