The Tall and Short of It

Shots for Short Kids?

About one in 3,500 children have growth-hormone deficiency, meaning they don't produce enough growth hormone for normal development and need daily injections of synthetic growth hormone to achieve something close to a normal height. In 2003, the FDA expanded approval for growth-hormone therapy to include the 1 percent of kids with idiopathic short stature (ISS). With treatment, children with ISS can gain an average of two to five inches depending on the cause of the slow growth and how many years they're in treatment. Studies have found that growth-hormone therapy is very safe for children. Side effects are rare and may include ear infections, muscle or joint pain, headaches, nausea, breast growth, and skin rashes. However, the treatment costs about $20,000 per year, with some kids needing it for five years or longer, and insurance doesn't always cover the cost. For more information, visit the Human Growth Foundation at hgfound.org or the Magic Foundation at magicfoundation.org.

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the October 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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