Background: Since recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) became available in 1985, the spectrum of indications has broadened and the number of treated patients increased. However, long-term health-related quality of life (HRQoL) after childhood rhGH treatment has rarely been documented. We assessed HRQoL and its determinants in young adults treated with rhGH during childhood.
Methodology/principal findings: For this study, we retrospectively identified former rhGH patients in 11 centers of paediatric endocrinology, including university hospitals and private practices. We sent a questionnaire to all patients treated with rhGH for any diagnosis, who were older than 18 years, and who resided in Switzerland at time of the survey. Three hundred participants (58% of 514 eligible) returned the questionnaire. Mean age was 23 years; 56% were women; 43% had isolated growth hormone deficiency, or idiopathic short stature; 43% had associated diseases or syndromes, and 14% had growth hormone deficiency after childhood cancer. Swiss siblings of childhood cancer survivors and the German norm population served as comparison groups. HRQoL was assessed using the Short Form-36. We found that the Physical Component Summary of healthy patients with isolated growth hormone deficiency or idiopathic short stature resembled that of the control group (53.8 vs. 54.9). Patients with associated diseases or syndromes scored slightly lower (52.5), and former cancer patients scored lowest (42.6). The Mental Component Summary was similar for all groups. Lower Physical Component Summary was associated with lower educational level (coeff. -1.9). Final height was not associated with HRQoL.
Conclusions/significance: In conclusion, HRQoL after treatment with rhGH in childhood depended mainly on the underlying indication for rhGH treatment. Patients with isolated growth hormone deficiency/idiopathic short stature or patients with associated diseases or syndromes had HRQoL comparable to peers. Patients with growth hormone deficiency after childhood cancer were at high risk for lower HRQoL. This reflects the general impaired health of this vulnerable group, which needs long-term follow-up.