Causes and Symptoms of Pituitary Dwarfism Syndrome
Growth hormone deficiency has a wide range of causes, including genetic mutation, pituitary tumors, and autoimmune disease. Children who are born with growth hormone deficiency may develop pituitary dwarfism syndrome if hormone replacement treatment is not effective.
When a child is born with a deficiency in growth hormone, the lack is not apparent at birth, and may go unnoticed for up to twelve months afterwards. Between six and twelve months of age the body begins requiring large amounts of the hormone for physical growth; at this time in a child with growth hormone deficiency will begin to show signs of reduced physical development.
Overall, growth is delayed by around 50%, as compared to a typical child. If the condition is present from birth and is not treated, adult high is generally between four and five feet, depending on whether hormone levels are reduced or absent altogether.
Other possible symptoms include delayed development of teeth, muscles, bones, and hair, as well as vision impairment and delayed puberty. Children may also have low blood sugar, because growth hormone is involved in blood sugar control.
Dwarfism Syndrome Treatment
While reduced or absent growth hormone is the primary cause of dwarfism syndrome, the condition cannot always be diagnosed on the basis of a growth hormone blood test. This is because levels of growth hormone fluctuate greatly during the course of the day, and levels of the hormone are highest at night. One way of testing growth hormone levels is after heavy exercise, as the hormone is produced in response to this. Generally several growth hormone readings are taken on different days to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
If growth hormone deficiency can be diagnosed early in childhood, treatment with synthetic growth hormone can reduce the severity of most of the symptoms, and prevent delays in physical development. However, the treatment itself can cause side effects, which might include headaches and visual disturbances. These are caused by increased pressure in the brain. In addition, if a child receiving growth hormone injections has diabetes, the condition can be made worse as a result of the hormone treatment.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency
National Institute of Health MedlinePlus: Growth Hormone Deficiency
Mohsen S. Eledrisi, MD. for eMedicine Health: Growth Hormone Deficiency
Stephen Kemp, MD, PhD. for eMedicine: Growth Hormone Deficiency