A Safe Treatment
Dr. Brown points out that in the two years since the FDA approved hormone shots for ISS children, only an additional 10 percent have begun taking them. He calls it a myth that "any short kid can get on growth hormones."
"That's outside the standard of acceptable care," he says. "No responsible endocrinologist would do that."
Both Dr. Brown and Andrews say they have encountered a few parents who want their normal-size children on growth hormone therapy, but contend the FDA's tight criteria for eligibility and their own screening procedures weed out those seeking treatment for merely cosmetic reasons.
As for side effects, Dr. Brown says there are surprisingly few. He lists a few cases of hip dislocation because of a slipped growth plate, pressure buildup behind the eyes, and headaches. Patients' blood sugar and thyroid hormone levels need to be regularly monitored as well. According to Dr. Brown, doctors are required to report any side effects experienced by growth hormone patients, and all reactions to the therapy since the 1980s have been documented. "The safety profile of growth hormone therapy," he says, "is astounding."