Endocrine profile of children with intrauterine growth retardation

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jul;18(7):671-6. doi: 10.1515/jpem.2005.18.7.671.


Background: Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is a major cause of short stature in childhood. Most but not all children experience catch-up growth by 2 years of age.

Methods: We investigated the endocrine profile (thyroid function, prolactin, cortisol, C-peptide and insulin-like growth factor-I [IGF-IJ levels) of 57 children with IUGR, aged 2-10 years, and compared it with 30 controls whose birth weight was appropriate-for-gestational-age.

Results: The hormonal profile for both groups was similar for thyroid hormones, prolactin, C-peptide and IGF-I. Cortisol levels were significantly lower in the IUGR group compared to controls (p <0,05). When the IUGR group was divided into 'catch-up' growth and 'non-catch-up' subgroups, the latter had significantly lower IGF-I levels (p <0.001).

Conclusions: Lower cortisol levels in children born with IUGR may reflect impaired function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis associated with this condition. The significantly lower IGF-I levels of the 'non-catch-up' subgroup may be involved in their failure to grow.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / blood*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Male
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood


  • C-Peptide
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Prolactin
  • Hydrocortisone