The Debate over Growth Hormone Therapy
Growth Hormone Therapy
Growth hormone therapy consists of daily injections, according to the Human Growth Foundation. These injections can be prescribed for years, depending on when treatment starts and how much a child grows. Growth hormones are only effective during a child’s growing years. During that time, the growth plates, which permit bones to elongate and thicken, are open. Once they close, it’s too late.
Andrews calls the phrase “short but otherwise healthy” an oxymoron. “Height is part of health,” he says. “If a child’s mom is five feet, seven inches, and dad is five feet, ten inches, and testing shows the child will never reach four feet, eleven inches, then something is causing that.”
Also in agreement with Dr. Brown that growth problems often go undetected, Andrews says, “There are only a handful of pediatric endocrinologists in each city and most of them are working six days a week just trying to keep up with diabetes.” It takes an average of three to six months to get an appointment with a pediatric endocrinologist, according to Andrews.
The use of human growth hormone for abnormally short children (defined by the FDA as boys projected to be under five feet, three inches, and girls under four feet, eleven inches) with no known medical malady remains controversial, with critics accusing drug companies of turning shortness into a disease. Andrews calls this accusation “hype.” “It’s not true, and it’s hurting the credibility of all the legitimate growth hormone patients,” he says.
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