Children who are short but otherwise healthy, and who are treated with growth hormone (GH) do in fact become taller, but they also are at increased risk of suffering from depression as they grow older, according to new research presented to the a joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society. The findings compared kids who received GH treatment to kids who were of similar height and age but did not receive treatment. Kids who received treatment had more psychological and psychosocial issues than those who did not--although the researchers urged more research on whether it's the treatment itself or the culture around receiving treatment that had the greatest impact on mental health. More from ScienceDaily:
"Daily injections, frequent clinic visits and repeated discussions about height might exacerbate instead of improve psychosocial concerns in children with idiopathic short stature (ISS) who are otherwise healthy, and give them no cognitive improvements," said lead author Emily C. Walvoord, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.
While the link between using GH to increase height and improved psychological adaptation is being debated, early data suggest that the subtle cognitive problems seen in adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) might also occur in children with GHD and might improve with treatment.
Dr. Walvoord and her colleagues evaluated the cognitive and behavioral status of children with GHD and ISS after they received either GH therapy or observation alone, and their preliminary results presented here challenge the idea that improvements in height also result in improvements in psychological functioning. Their findings also raise the concern that GH treatment of these otherwise healthy children might even worsen their emotional symptoms.
Image: Short child, via Shutterstock