A Background Look at Human Growth Hormone

By: Stephen Morgan

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a protein Hormone secreted by the pituitary gland which stimulates growth and cell reproduction. Sometimes referred to as straight Growth Hormone (GH) the terms can be a little confusing for the uninitiated.

Growth Hormone promotes (amongst other things) cell regeneration, tissue repair and supports the immune system in fighting infection and diseases.

In the past growth Hormone was extracted from human pituitary glands and given to deficient children. It is now produced synthetically and is now prescribed and given to both adults and children for a variety of reasons.

Treatment for adults and children can vary but as has been mentioned is more or less similar in that as Growth Hormone is a large protein molecule, it must be injected into subcutaneous tissue or muscle to get it into the blood.

This is a nearly painless exercise involving syringes of insulin and is often much less painful than anticipated though as in all things, pain is a relative term!

Usually when a person has had a long-standing deficiency of Growth Hormone, the benefits of any treatment are usually pretty obvious and the side effects of the treatment prescribed are usually rare. When treated with Growth Hormone, a deficient child will show signs of beginning to grow faster quite often within months of starting the treatment. This is usually accompanied by other benefits which would include increased strength and an increase in motor development and a reduction of body fat and tissue.

As in all cases there is always the risk of side effects but with Growth Hormone deficient children receiving the correct dosage, the risks of side effects are always there but they are at the lowest risk for problems and quite often get receive the greatest benefit.

Costs of treatment can vary in terms of money and commitment but when asked about the benefits of GH treatment most Parents and children agree that the benefits in increased quality of life are substantial. The treatment for children usually involves daily injections of GH, usually for as long as the child is growing.

Lifelong continuation of Growth Hormone may be recommended for those severely deficient as adults. This is the sort of treatment that is closely monitored by most Paediatric Endocrinologists and the usual course of treatment is monitored and adjusted very 3-4 months or so.

Again the psychological value and benefit of treatment is sometimes difficult to asses but as has been stressed before, once the physical benefits begin to emerge then most children and families become quite enthusiastic.

It has to be stressed again that little except the cost of treating severely deficient children is controversial and most children with severe growth hormone deficiency in the developed world are offered treatment and most accept.

Lastly you also have to consider that many conditions beside Growth Hormone Deficiency cause poor growth and GH Therapy has been shown to improve short-term growth in many conditions but long term height gains are usually poorer than those achieved when Growth Hormone Deficiency is the cause of the shortness.

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