Side Effects of Growth Hormone in Children

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Human growth hormone (HGH) injections can be the perfect answer for some children with stunted growth. At the same time, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of any treatment, HGH injections included. Understanding the possible side effects of HGH injections can help parents and children make an informed decision about how and whether to undergo the injections.

How HGH Works

  • Under normal circumstances, the pituitary gland produces and secretes natural human growth hormone. Some children's pituitary glands do not secrete enough of the hormone, which stunts their growth. To fix this, scientists have created a non-natural form of the hormone that can be injected into children to help them grow.

Main Side Effect

  • The main negative side effect of HGH injections is the fact that the pituitary gland may get even "lazier." In other words, the pituitary gland may sense the injected hormones and secrete even fewer growth hormones in response. This would require a much more long-term injection schedule, which can cause additional side effects.

Long-Term Side Effects

  • Long-term use of HGH can lead to acromegaly, which is excessive bone growth. Ironically, acromegaly is usually caused by the pituitary gland's excessive secretion of HGH. In this case, it is caused by a non-natural form of HGH, but the symptoms are similar and can be fatal. These symptoms can include heart failure, kidney failure and severe headaches.

Other Side Effects

  • Other side effects of HGH can include ear infection, vision changes, headaches, nausea, vomiting, skin irritations, carpal tunnel syndrome, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, joint pain and swelling, muscle pain and fatigue.

Side Effects in Children With Normal Growth

  • Children with normal growth should not be given HGH injections. If a child with normal growth is given HGH injections, diabetes, high blood pressure and malformed bones or internal organs may result.

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