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Pituitary Gland Deficiency Affects Growth

Ananta F. Benvenuto Saturday, July 24, 2010 ,
Somatotropin (growth hormone) is a polypeptide hormone that stimulates growth and cell reproduction in the human body. Pituitary gland regulates the growth hormone and any imbalance in the gland may affect the normal somatotropin levels, often resulting in stunted growth in individuals. The deficiency of growth hormone exhibits different effects at different ages. It can be congenital or acquired in childhood or adult life. It can be partial or complete. It is usually permanent, but sometimes transient. It may be an isolated deficiency or occur in association with deficiencies of other pituitary hormones.


In newborns, the primary manifestation may be hypoglycemia with growth failure in later infancy. In adults, the deficiency is rare, however, lean body mass, poor bone density, depression, social withdrawal and poor memory are often associated with it. Prompt diagnosis of the deficiency and instant treatment helps in putting back somatotropin on track.

Signs and symptoms in early childhood:

  • Increased amount of fat around the waist.
  • The child might look younger than other children of his/her age.
  • Delayed tooth development in infancy.
  • Delayed onset of puberty.
  • Slow growth velocity at each stage of age and puberty.
Diagnosis:
  • Constant monitoring of childs growth over a period of time.
  • To determine bone maturity and growth potential, hand and wrist X-rays are taken.
  • A review of prenatal stage, labor and delivery.
  • Scanning of pituitary gland to detect abnormalities.
  • Artificial stimulation of growth hormone followed by constant measurements of somatotropin released over a stipulated period.
Two-thirds of the production and release of somatotropin in the blood occurs during deep sleep. An overnight stay in the hospital enables your doctor to measure the growth hormone. 
Treatment:
Children requiring treatment receive daily injections of growth hormone (GH). Blood test and x-rays constantly monitor their growth. Pediatric endocrinologists adjust the dosage levels after every 36 months. Treatment is usually extended as long as the child is growing, and lifelong continuation may be recommended for those with severe deficiency. Injection sites include the biceps, thigh, buttocks, and stomach and should be rotated daily to avoid lipoatrophy. Painless insulin syringes, pen injectors, or a needle-free injection is administered to avoid discomfort.

Signs and symptoms in Adults:
  • Constant fatigue due to low energy.
  • Reduced bone density and strength.
  • Increased amount of fat around the waist.
  • Impaired concentration and memory.
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength.
  • Constant feeling of anxiety, depression or sadness.
  • Lipid abnormalities, particularly raised LDL cholesterol.
  • Cardiac dysfunction, including a thickened intima media.
  • Insulin resistance.
Treatment:
Doctors for the physiologic age-related decline somatotropin secretion do not recommend growth hormone supplementation. However on the onset of deficiency, 25% dosage is administered on a weekly basis, until the GH returns to normal levels. Lower dosage is given to elderly to safeguard them against side effects of the treatment.
Amongst prominent figures who have been affected with GH deficiency include Lionel Messi of F.C. Barcelona striker. He was diagnosed with the disease at the age of eleven and his family couldn't afford its treatment, but that cost was covered by Barcelona in exchange for Messi joining the team's youth departments.

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