Today's Healthy Child: Growth hormones

    7:44 PM, Sep 5, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - If you're wondering how tall your child will be, pediatrician Dr. Carrie Brown with Arkansas Children's Hospital says, you can usually look around at your family to get a good idea.

    "Finding out that basic information; finding out where you come from, looking at your brothers, sisters and parents; if someone seems to not be in the pattern they should be; getting additional study."

    Burke says, "From pre-school to puberty, an average child grows about two inches a year. If it's much less than that, the child could be lacking the hormone that makes them grow."

    Brown says doctors can check their growth chart to determine how that child compares with others. They can also get what's called a "bone age."

    "Where we take an X-ray of your hand where we see how mature your bones are," Brown explains.

    If it's less, then there is a growth hormone, a daily injection that replaces the chemical your own body makes that allows you to you grow. But Brown warns parents it's a very involved process.

    "It's complicated and a big commitment if you're going to do this, day in and day out," she says.

    That's because it's a daily injectible given over several years. But in that time, a child can see promising growth.

    "A kid could grow from being less than average, which is two inches to growing somewhere to three to four inches in the first year. It slows down after that," Brown says.

    There are some serious side effects that parents should be aware of. A good time to consider the injections is between four and six years of age. At the age of 12, it might be too late.

    Growth hormone deficiency can affect more than a child's height, it can affect heart strength, lung capacity, bone density and immune system function.

    Source: Dr. Bryan Burke with Arkansas Children's Hospital


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