Short stature has been defined as a height below the 2 standard deviation for age, sex and ethnicity. Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) represents a condition characterized by reduced GH secretion, isolated or associated with other pituitary hormone deficiencies. In a child with short stature and growth deceleration, after the exclusion of other causes of growth failure, the diagnosis of GHD has to be confirmed by measurement of GH secretion after at least two stimulation tests. Patients with GHD should be treated with rhGH as soon as possible, to obtain normalization of growth and normal final height. The catch-up growth in response to rhGH therapy is maximal during the first years and could be affected by many variables, such as birth-weight, age and height at start of treatment and of puberty, and duration of treatment. Overall, rhGH is believed to be safe and significant side-effects in children are very rare, including benign intracranial hypertension, hyperglycaemia, arthralgia and myalgia. Patients with childhood onset GHD are usually retested in late adolescence to confirm the GHD persistence and to continue of GH therapy. In conclusion, the present chapter provides useful and updated information about the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of children with GHD.
Part of the book: Restricted Growth