New England Journal of Medicine
Should Short Boys Take Growth Hormone?
Parents often worry when their child, especially a son, is much shorter than average. But as long as there is no medical cause, parents can rest easy, experts say.
Writing in the March 28 New England Journal of Medicine, two pediatric endocrinologists describe a scenario pediatricians see all the time: Parents bring in their 11-year-old son because he’s substantially shorter than his classmates, and his growth seems to have slowed in recent years.
Their concern is reasonable, said Dr. David Allen, co-author of the article and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.
Allen said there are instances where healthy children are extremely short, and “it’s appropriate to help them grow.” But for most kids, it’s “reasonable” to just keep watching their growth rate and reassure the parents.
Often, parents worry about their child (again, usually a son) being teased, or — as an adult — feeling unhappy or even being at a disadvantage career-wise.
But studies have not borne out those worries, Allen said. Short children and adults do not seem less happy than their taller peers, and there’s no proof that treating idiopathic short stature improves quality of life.
“The more we look into this ‘assumed morbidity’ associated with short stature, the less we find,” Allen said. “And it’s been very difficult to show that treating (idiopathic short stature) improves kids’ well-being as adults.”
As far as safety, growth hormone “has an excellent track record while kids are on it,” Allen said. But no one knows yet if there are risks later in life. In theory, growth hormone might raise the odds of diabetes or certain cancers down the road. But for now, those are theoretical risks, Allen said.
The other big issue is cost. A conservative estimate is that each inch of height gained with growth hormone treatment would ring up at $35,000 to $50,000, Allen said.
Growth hormone is not the only option for idiopathic short stature. Boys can be given low doses of androgens, or “male” hormones. This therapy boosts boys’ growth rate in the short term, but there’s no evidence it increases their adult height, Allen said.
“It’s always reasonable to say, ‘Let’s just watch this,’” Allen said. At first, the gap might worsen if a short child’s peers hit puberty earlier and their growth takes off, he noted. But once a “late bloomer” starts puberty himself, his growth will accelerate, too.
My HBD radar is going off.
What’s going on here? Answer: White fathers of white sons nearing or very early in puberty are freaking out because they think there’s something abnormally or pathologically wrong with their sons, simply because they’re a lot shorter than their black male classmates who have already started puberty and are therefore experiencing their growth spurts. Often these white fathers fear that their white sons won’t be able to make or do well on sports teams, simply because their late blooming white sons are having to compete with early blooming bigger stronger taller faster blacks. Yep, it’s a combination of the sports cult, fathers living out their failed sports cult dreams through their sons, and our collective inability to accept racial differences. Therefore, we’re pumping late prepubescent and early pubescent boys with hormones they don’t need, because all they need to be given is time, and maybe the option of self-actualization in some venue other than a field, pitch or court.