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Minerva Pediatrica 2020 June;72(3):206-25

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.20.05821-1

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Dilemmas of growth hormone treatment for GH deficiency and idiopathic short stature: defining, distinguishing, and deciding

Julia G. HALAS 1, Adda GRIMBERG 2

1 College of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 2 Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA



Worrisome growth can be a sign of underlying pathology but usually reflects healthy variation. It is often recognized through short stature, which is defined by arbitrarily separating height, a physical trait on a continuum, into “normal” and “abnormal.” In some cases of worrisome growth, recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) treatment is indicated to hasten growth/increase height. This review addresses the two most frequently treated indications for rhGH, growth hormone deficiency (GHD) and idiopathic short stature (ISS). A review of worrisome growth itself, of the history of GH treatment, of the blurry line between partial GHD and ISS, of the GH stakeholders, and of the outside pressures involved in these cases demonstrates the ambiguous platform upon which treatment decisions are made. The rhGH treatment decision process can be examined further by considering the three most impactful factors on parental height-related medical decision-making: treatment characteristics, child health, and psychosocial function. While it is important to note that treatment for classical GHD is uncontroversial and supported, treatment decisions for partial GHD and ISS are more complicated and require careful evaluation of both patient needs and the supporting evidence. As the rhGH community grows, physicians, parents, and patients are encouraged to engage in a shared decision-making process to navigate the many challenges facing the GH field. Although this review addresses GHD and ISS specifically, the issues discussed are often applicable to pediatrics as a whole.


KEY WORDS: Growth hormone; Decision making; Diagnosis

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