Therapy with growth hormone is given to treat children with growth retardation. Growth retardation may be due to growth hormone deficiency, when the body does not produce enough growth hormone. However, growth retardation may also be due to other disorders such as Turner syndrome or chronic renal disease, where although the body produces growth hormone its pathways are altered, leading to an imbalance of growth factors.
In both cases, treatment with growth hormone can increase a child’s height to the potential target height – as determined by the heights of the parents. Without treatment, children with growth retardation are likely to remain short during childhood and adulthood.
The causes of growth hormone deficiency are often unknown but it may be present at birth due to genetic defects or birth trauma or, it may be acquired during childhood due to a tumour in the brain or as a result of tumour radiation therapy. A severe head injury may also result in GHD.