Human Growth Hormone 'Overused' in UK Children

LONDON (Reuters Health) Mar 20 – More than one-in-five children treated with growth hormone in Britain are being given it for unlicensed reasons and are unlikely to gain much extra height, according to a report in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.
The bulletin, an independent review for doctors published by the Consumers' Association, says in the report that short stature was one of the commonest chronic problems in paediatric practice and might be regarded as a disability by parents. It points out, however, that synthetic human growth hormone (somatropin) is only licensed for use in children with growth hormone deficiency, and children with short stature associated with Turner's syndrome, chronic renal insufficiency and Prader-Willi syndrome.

It found that an estimated 22% of children receiving growth hormone were receiving the therapy for unlicensed indications, where growth hormone secretion was within normal levels, such as children with short stature due to intrauterine growth retardation or skeletal dysplasia.

"While several small randomised controlled trials and observational studies have suggested that some children with idiopathic short stature do have a short-term increase in growth rate when given growth hormone therapy, their overall mean final height gain over predicted adult height is small–about 2.7 cm."

That compares with a gain of 25-30 cm in children with growth hormone deficiency.

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