YOU ASKED, WE ANSWERED: Human Growth Hormone Questions Answered

Hellman: When children are found to be growth-hormone deficient, they almost always are shorter than their peers, and less able to perform well athletically. When they are given appropriate replacement of growth hormone, together with improved growth and height will often come an improved athletic ability, but they often still have difficulty catching up with their peers athletically. Although some professional athletes as adults have taken growth hormone to improve their athletic performance, careful scientific studies show that the effect of the growth hormone on improving their muscle strength is relatively small and much less important than their training regimen.

Question: I have a 14-year-old son who is small for his age. He stands 4'10 and weighs about 85 lbs. We are seeing a specialist and are wondering about growth hormone treatments that are available for him. We are interested in side effects.

Pat from Jennings, Louisiana

Hellman: Your 14-year-old son who is small for his age should be evaluated by a pediatrician or pediatric endocrinologist to see why he is smaller than his peers. There are many reasons why he may be smaller at this time, and an expert can usually distinguish what the reason is, and whether he needs specific treatment, or merely more time to grow properly. In the event that he is found to have a deficiency of growth hormone, I would like to reassure you that since treatment is merely replacing the missing growth hormone, there are only minimal side effects. Even the injections are no problem for most children, and are well tolerated. I would not hesitate in finding out what you need to know about his height, and beginning with his pediatrician or going to a pediatric endocrinologist would be a good way to start.

Question: I am worried about my bf, he has been taking it for at least two yrs now, he says there is nothing wrong with taking it, he has a awful temper, he is up and down in moods, always has to stay busy never relaxes, even in the morning he will jump outta bed ready to work out, I'm very concerned with the temper part, he just gets outraged out of little simple things!! maybe it's just him, but i have a feeling this drug has something to so with it! please help!

Stephanie from Seekonk, Massachusetts

Hellman: Dear "worried about your boy friend." When a healthy adult male takes growth hormone either to improve athletic performance, or to improve muscle building, or to prevent aging, he is always making a mistake and wasting his money. There have been many reports of people with excess amounts of growth hormone having behavior changes, and anger problems would be not uncommon. In addition, many people may be taking multiple medications such as androgens, and they are often unaware of all that they are getting from their provider of the illicit medications. There is little benefit from these substances, and unlimited risk.

Question: I saw this segment on World News tonight and I started to think about my son. He is 10 diagnosed with ADHD and has been on Concerta for five years now. This medication has stunted his growth a lot. His little brother is three years younger and an inch shorter. Can this type of HGH be considered on a 10-year-old with this type of problem and on this medication?

Blenda from Weslaco, Texas

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