Growth hormone (GH) has been used for treatment of impaired growth in children with chronic kidney disease (CKD) for nearly 17 years. Controlled and open-label studies have shown that GH is highly effective in improving growth velocity and adult height. The growth response is negatively correlated with age and height at start and time spent on dialysis treatment; it is positively correlated with dose and duration of treatment and the primary renal disease (renal hypodysplasia). In children with renal transplants, corticosteroid treatment is an additional factor negatively influencing spontaneous growth rates. However, GH treatment is able to compensate corticosteroid-induced growth failure. GH treatment improved final height by 0.5-1.7 standard deviation score (SDS) in various studies, whereas the control group lost about 0.5 SDS in comparable time intervals. These variable results are explained in part by the factors mentioned above. The adverse events are comparable to those in non-CKD children treated with GH.
Conclusion: GH treatment is safe and highly effective in improving growth and final height of short children with all stages of CKD. The highest treatment success is obtained if treatment is started at an early age and with relatively well-preserved residual renal function and continued until final height.