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Is the growth hormone therapy safe for gaining height?

Q: My son is 12 years old and the doctor who examined him for his back problem thought that he had a puny body structure (upper body - waist above was small and not proportionate to his lower body) and the physical growth was not commensurate with his age. He is about 4.7. He asked us to consult an endocrinologist and upon his advise we took the x-ray of his wrist and knee. The result is that his physical growth is less than that of an 11 years old and the doctor then suggested we give him growth hormone injections. Kindly advise if he would get normal growth with these hormone injections and how long does he have to take this treatment and would there be any long term or short term side effects?

A:First get his thyroid hormones assessed, if these are normal, then other general health investigations like ESR, Hb, S. Creatinine, blood glucose etc. If all is normal then, get his Growth hormone (GH) stimulation done. If your son is deficient in GH thin results with GH replacement are excellent and almost normal height can be achieved. If there is no Gh deficiency, even then GH therapy can be given, but results are not that good. If a person is GH deficient then GH replacement is required almost life long. The dose required is more for gaining height but very small for maintenance. GH is not only for height, but for normal muscle, bone heart brain function also. There are no side effects of GH therapy if given under proper supervision of an endocrinologist. The duration of the therapy for gaining height is till the bones get fused i.e. till around 18- 22 years of age.

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