What is Human Growth Hormone treatment?
Growth hormone treatment refers to the use of growth hormone (GH) as a prescription medication—it is one form of hormone therapy. Growth hormone is a peptide hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates growth and cell reproduction. In the past, growth hormone was extracted from human pituitary glands. GH is now produced by recombinant DNA technology and is prescribed for a variety of reasons.
How does HGH treatment work?
Growth hormone deficiency is treated by replacing GH. All GH prescribed in North America, Europe, and most of the rest of the world is a human GH, manufactured by recombinant DNA technology. As GH is a large peptide molecule, it must be injected into subcutaneous tissue or muscle to get it into the blood. Nearly painless insulin syringes make this less trying than is usually anticipated, but perceived discomfort is a subjective value.
When treated with GH, a deficient child will begin to grow faster within months. Other benefits may be noticed, such as increased strength, progress in motor development, and reduction of body fat. Side-effects of this type of physiologic replacement are quite rare.
Still, costs of treatment in terms of money, effort, and perhaps quality of life are substantial. Treatment of children usually involves daily injections of growth hormone, usually for as long as the child is growing. Lifelong continuation may be recommended for those most severely deficient as adults. Most pediatric endocrinologists monitor growth and adjust dose every 3–4 months. Assessing the psychological value of treatment is difficult, but most children and families are enthusiastic once the physical benefits begin to be seen.