Will enough growth hormone injections cause a short child to grow enough to actually be tall for their age?

After all, why stop at just “not as short” when you can achieve “taller than average,” as some parents may wonder.

“The risk of long-term complications of growth hormone therapy in children has not been well-studied,” says Dr. Lisa Lewis, MD, a board certified pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas, and author of “Feed the Baby Hummus, Pediatrician-Backed Secrets from Cultures Around the World.”

“For this reason, growth hormone treatments should only be reserved for children who are medically classified as short stature and deficient in growth hormone.

“If growth hormone is given to normal children with no growth hormone deficiency, the child is at risk of side effects from the treatment.

“Possible side effects of growth hormone given to a child who is not deficient in growth hormone include diabetes, high blood pressure, organ malfunction (heart, kidney, liver) and atherosclerosis.”

Healthy but Short Children’s Height Increase with HGH: Study

The “more is better” approach does not work when it comes to human growth hormone treatments for children of short stature.

A short child cannot be made tall with growth hormone treatments because the maximum height increase is about three inches.

This information comes from a study, published in 2007, led by Jackie Bryant, a researcher at the University of Southampton in England.

The study pertains to kids whose short height has no medical or other known cause; they are otherwise healthy.

For the study, 10 randomized controlled trials were analyzed, involving 741 kids who were very short but otherwise healthy.

Despite the multitude of injections required, the kids’ ultimately ended up still short, near the lower range of normal, relative to their same-age/gender peers.

According to the report, a final height increase of three inches may cost between $108,000 and $216,000.

One of the reviewed studies included a psychological comparison between the kids who were treated with GH and the control group.

The kids who were treated with growth hormone had reported no improvement in their quality of life.

It’s fair to wonder if they’d report a jump in quality if the height increase actually made them taller than average, vs. merely just not as short.

Growth Hormone for Kids with GH Deficiency: When Is It Too Late for Treatment to Be Effective?

Dr. Lewis explains, “It is too late for treatments to be effective when an adolescent has stopped growing.

“The growth plates in the bone are fused at this point, and no further growth can occur.”

Having 25+ years’ experience, Dr. Lewis completed her pediatrics residency at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Scott and White Memorial Hospital. For two years afterward she was assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Texas A&M University Health Science Center.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: Shutterstock/aekkorn
Source: cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004440/abstract