Supplements

These may include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and Human Growth Hormone. They come in pill, powder or liquid form. Two companies even sell a skin lotion that they claim promotes height increase. Coincidentally, one of these companies also sells a lotion to grow hair. We wonder if it is the same formula.

Options for adolescents and adults to self-prescribe Human Growth Hormone (HGH) supplements exist but it is not advisable. If an adolescent does not already have low HGH levels, taking HGH can have the opposite effect of prematurely closing the growth plates and limiting future growth. The best course of action is to consult with a paediatric endocrinologist and, if tests warrant it, let the doctor prescribe the correct type and dosage of HGH.

Use of HGH supplements by adults can produce acromegaly, a deformity in which bones that have not ossified (turned into bone) in adulthood, such as the jaw and facial bones, are induced to grow. This can result in a wide variety of symptoms and distorted appearances.

Growth Hormone

Hormones are chemicals produced by special cells in glands and other organs of the body. Most hormones are produced by cells in the endocrine glands. These hormones are produced in very small amounts and are released into the bloodstream and travel to the organ or tissue where their effect takes place. Several hormones are involved in regulating growth. Some act directly on organs, while others act by triggering the production of other hormones, which activates specific organ functions that is necessary for growth. Growth hormone is a protein produced particularly by the pituitary gland. Proteins are made of building blocks known as amino acids. Located in the centre of our brain, the pituitary gland is often called the master gland because it controls the release of many of the body’s hormones.

 

important-hormones.JPG
Overview of some of the most important hormones

There are two unnatural ways to increase growth hormone level – growth hormone-releasing products and injections.

Growth hormone-releasing products such as glycine, glutamine, agrinine, ornithine, niacin, and 16 other amino acids can be obtained without prescription. These substances are usually used by bodybuilders. Some of them are good for boosting immunity, protecting the liver, fighting cancer, rebuilding body tissue after surgery or trauma, amongst many other applications.

Some types of amino acids help produce growth hormone and with proper exercises may increase your growth. Performing this self-treatment without medical supervision, especially for children, is not recommended. These drugs have to be taken in proper dosage and some of them need to be combined with other drugs or nutrients. Improper usage may cause you grievous health problems. There are many side effects such as diarrhoea, low toxicity, headache, drowsiness, muscle spasms, dizziness high blood pressure, nervousness, depression, hair loss, gaining weight, and many more.

Manmade growth hormone is administered by a series of injections that could cost anywhere from USD12,000 to USD18,000 a year. It is usually prescribed after careful evaluation of an individual’s growth pattern and growth potential. These injections may help you grow, but inducing growth too quickly may inhibit growth at a later stage. Growth hormone may produce various other side effects such as high cholesterol, diabetes, liver abnormalities, increased tissue stiffness, carpal tunnel syndrome, musculoskeletal disease, neuropathy, allergic reactions, pancreatitis, hyperglycemia, visual deterioration, headaches, vomiting, increased liver enzyme levels, increased sweating, edema, pain in general and back pain specifically. If you receive these injections, your body will adapt to this drug, and will refuse to produce natural growth hormone after you stop receiving injections. If you think these procedures are not for you, read further.

Exercise, stress and emotional excitement induce growth hormone release. On the other hand, obesity and fatty acids inhibits the release of growth hormone. It is growth hormone that grows the cells, bones, muscles, and organs of our bodies.

Standard Growth Chart

One tool that physicians use to determine if there may be a growth problem is the Standard Growth Chart. There is a separate chart for boys and girls.

The first step is to plot the child’s height and age on the appropriate growth chart to determine what percentile group he or she is in. For example, Boy A is 10 years old and 55 inches tall. This boy is right in the middle of the growth curve and will probably be average height as an adult. Boy B is also 10 years old but stands only 50 inches tall. He would be in the 3rd percentile for boys his age and his final height may be quite short.

If height history is available, the physician can determine if the child has steadily followed one of the
percentiles, or has suddenly dropped from one to another. For example, Girl A’s history is as follows:

age-height-table.JPG

Between ages 4 and 7 she was consistently around the 75th percentile. While she continued to grow, by age 9 she has dropped to the 25th percentile. This could indicate the onset of a growth failure. If, on the other hand, she had consistently placed near the 25th percentile, then she is probably short due to genetic factors. Unless her parents are in a significantly higher percentile, her growth is progressing well and is less of a concern.

The next step is to predict the child’s final adult height. Actual adult height depends on many factors including the child’s health, nutrition, stress level and most importantly, genetics. The physician should ask about all of these factors as well as the heights of the child’s parents and other relatives. If both parents are in the 3rd percentile for height, then it should not be surprising that Boy B described above is also in the 3rd percentile for boys age 10. If Boy B consistently placed in the 3rd percentile during his 10 years, then in all likelihood, he will continue to grow according to his placement on the curve and should be expected to reach a height near his parents. However, if his parents are in a significantly different percentile, there may be a problem, and a physical exam is indicated. Of course the boy’s father and mother may be in two different percentiles, which makes the prediction of Boy B’s adult height more complicated.

Physical Examination

After the first consultation, the physician or paediatric endocrinologist will conduct a series of tests to determine if there is a problem, and if there is a possible course of action.

Height Measurements
The first thing the doctor will do is measure the child and ask for information about the child’s previous growth patterns and the heights of his or her parents and other relatives. With this information and a Standard Growth Chart, the doctor can determine if the child is on the right growth path according to his or her genetics, or if there might be a more serious problem.

Blood Tests
Blood tests will be performed to determine if there are any physiological problems. Some conditions are easily determined while others are more difficult. The lack of adequate production of Growth Hormone is difficult to determine because it is produced in spurts and does not remain in the blood stream very long. Many blood samples may be needed over the course of a few months to obtain an accurate reading. Alternatively, the doctor may advise that the child be placed in a hospital for a few days so the blood can be checked every few hours.

X-rays
X-rays of the child’s hand can indicate his or her growth potential. Each long bone in the body has a growth plate on one or both ends where growth occurs. The doctor can view the structure of the growth plates and the distance between the bones to determine how much future growth is possible. The hand is a good part of the body to use because there are so many bones in it.

As children reach puberty, the growth plates close and no further growth occurs. If the X-rays indicate that more growth is possible and that the child is low in growth hormones, then growth hormone treatment is indicated. However, if the growth plates are nearly closed, Growth Hormone treatment is not likely to produce positive results.

Human Growth Hormone Treatment is an expensive proposition. It can cost up to USD1,000 a week, depending on how much growth hormone the child needs. While under treatment, the child receives injections three to seven times per week. For treatment to be effective, he or she must continue to receive injections until the end of puberty. It is important for parents to understand that Human Growth Hormone treatment should only be applied when it is determined that the child is not producing enough Growth Hormone.

Too much Growth Hormone could trigger an early onset of puberty, closing the growth plates and reducing the child’s final height. Whatever your physician advises, you may want to consider a second opinion, especially from a paediatric endocrinologist.

Causes for short stature

There are many possible causes for short stature. Each cause may or may not be treatable.

Familial
The most likely reason for a child to be short is because his or her parents are short. Children generally inherit all of their physical characteristics from their parents. Besides height, some of the most obvious are eye colour, hair colour, facial features and perhaps intelligence. Children from short parents can be expected to reach an adult height about the same as their parents. However, children often grow taller than their parents because today’s improved knowledge of nutrition and medical practices. Treatment with Human Growth Hormones is not indicated in these cases because the child’s growth hormone production is normal according to their physiology.

Constitutional Growth Delay
In Constitutional Growth Delay, children grow slowly at first. Then during puberty they grow quickly, reaching a normal height approximately the same as their parents. Boys are more likely to have Constitutional Growth Delay than girls. Children with Constitutional Growth Delay may experience growth spurts before they start school but do not catch up to their peers until puberty. Constitutional Growth Delay may run in families.

Growth Failure
These conditions indicate a problem with the child’s physiology and are grouped into three categories -Systemic, Endocrine and Congenital. Treatment may or may not be possible, depending on the specific condition.

Idiopathic Short Stature
When children do not demonstrate any symptoms, and test results do not indicate a problem, they are said to have idiopathic short stature. These children are physically and mentally normal, but they are short. Idiopathic short stature is uncommon. The effect of growth hormone treatment on children with Idiopathic Short Stature has been inconclusive. There is no evidence that treatment may increase their adult height and is not recommended by the medical community.

Understanding Children’s Growth

Our society places a high value on a person’s height, almost more than any other characteristic. Children who are shorter than their peers face significant challenges. They are often teased, and are on the receiving end of name-calling and prejudice. They may deal with their frustration by becoming depressed, angry, or aggressive. If they do not experience a growth spurt, they will face other challenges as adults. Parents need to be aware of these challenges so they can help their children become happy and productive. Administering Human Growth Hormone is one treatment, in certain cases, but we also explore other ways that parents can help their children. Genetics play the most important role in determining a child’s final height but there are some common sense steps parents can take to maximise their children’s growth. Growing children should:

1. Eat healthy food.

2. Get a good night’s sleep.

3. Get plenty of exercise. Without exercise, nutrition goes into building fat instead of height.

4. Don’t smoke! Second-hand smoke has also been linked to reduced growth.

If you are concerned about a child’s growth, the first thing you should do is contact the paediatrician. Depending on a child’s age and height, the paediatrician may decide to begin diagnostics or refer you to a paediatric endocrinologist. A paediatric endocrinologist specialises in the hormone system of children. The hormone system regulates growth in children, as well as many other biological functions. It will be helpful to the physician if you provide information about your child’s growth patterns. This could be as easy as providinga representation of the wall or door you use to measure a child’s height, since he or she began to stand. The information presented here is meant to help parents discuss their child’s growth with their paediatrician. It is not a substitute for those discussions. The physician should first discuss with you the possible causes of short stature. It is important to not jump to conclusions. Allow enough time for the physician to conduct the right tests. Testing may require six months to a year and may include detailed recording of height changes over time.

« Previous Page