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Pinpointing Where The Human Growth Hormone Deficiency Problem Lies



Several thousand children each year suffer from some form of delayed or stunted growth. In most cases, this growth failure is due to some growth hormone deficiency. When a child fails to grow, physicians generally try to determine exactly where the deficiency occurred because the problem can be related either to a malfunction of the human growth hormone alone or may involve other pituitary hormone growth deficiencies. There also may be either only a partial malfunction of the hormone production or complete malfunction. Pinpointing exactly where the problem lies, and to what extent, helps physicians determine the best way in which to treat the problem.

In some cases, the human growth hormone deficiency may be related to a problem that occurred before the child was ever born. In this case, the problem is referred to as being congenital. In situations where the pituitary gland or hypothalamus sustained some sort after damage at any time after, or even during, birth the problem is known as acquired. Meningitis, encephalitis and even rare tumors may contribute to a child acquiring a human growth hormone deficiency. When a tumor develops at a specific location in the brain and begins to press on either the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland, damage can result, causing the human growth hormone deficiency. While surgical treatments can remove the tumor and stop it from spreading, the unfortunate side effect is that the child will generally suffer from permanent hypopituitarism for the rest of their lives.

In some cases where there is a growth hormone deficiency, a child will experience an overall slow growth rate. Children are monitored at annual health check-ups to determine if they are within the established height growth range for their age bracket in order to determine whether there are any potential human growth hormone deficiency issues.

When a growth hormone deficiency is noted in a newborn child, it is generally first observed as creating problems such as hypoglycemia, a condition in which there is a lower than normal amount of sugar observed in the blood. When enough sugar, or glucose, is not sent to the brain, the results can range from mild to quite severe and in some very rare cases, can even be fatal. When a baby is born and is observed as having significantly low birth weight, physicians may suspect that the child suffers from hypoglycemia. The first condition the treating physician may try to rule out is whether the condition in the infant is related to any type of similar condition in the mother. If the mother of the child does not prove to have any sort of problem with low blood sugar levels or diabetes, the situation then generally is proven to be related to hypopituitarism and is directly linked to a problem with the pituitary gland and the production of the human growth hormone, or lack thereof. When one or more of the hormones that are produced and controlled by the anterior lobe portion of the pituitary gland are shown to malfunction, then the condition is known as hypopituitarism. When the situation involves the posterior lobe only, then the resulting condition is called diabetes insipidus. In some rare cases, it may be noted that both the anterior and the posterior lobes of the pituitary gland have malfunctioned and this condition is referred to as panhypopituitarism.