In a recent webinar, Dr. Mary Gwyn Roper discussed Growth Hormone Therapy (GHT) in patients who have Turner Syndrome. Read below to learn some things she shared that might help you decide whether Growth Hormone Therapy (GHT) is right for your child.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to replace individualized medical advice. Deciding whether your child should take GHT is a crucial decision that should not be taken lightly. For individual, personalized medical advice, see your child’s pediatric endocrinologist and/or other recommended medical professionals to help you make this decision.
Deciding Whether GHT is Right for Your Child
What Are Growth Hormones?
Growth hormones are a type of hormone secreted by your brain’s pituitary gland that help:
- increase the body’s muscle density,
- lower body fat,
- control the body’s metabolism, and
- help the body grow.
What Is GHT?
GHT is a treatment in which growth hormones are injected into the skin. These injections replace the brain’s (usually natural) tendency to secrete its own growth hormones, thus creating a mostly natural growth process. GHT is mostly taken at night because typically, the brain releases these hormones into the body when a child who is in their growth stage (child to teenager) is sleeping. Therefore, it is important that this be replicated by GHT as much as possible, with similar doses as the natural counterpart for the patient’s age, to ensure the best chances of success.
Benefits of GHT
So, why should you consider having your child take GHT? Some benefits may include, among others:
- improving your child’s self-esteem, since they won’t feel as different, size-wise, as compared to their peers;
- enhancing your child’s heart health; and
- strengthening your child’s bone health.
Possible Side Effects of GHT
While there are many benefits to taking GHT, there are also some potential side effects, including, among others:
- vision loss,
- increased scoliosis,
- glucose intolerance.
It is important to note that these side effects are often rare, according to a recent scientific study; only around 12% of patients who take GHT have them. Additionally, according to Dr. Mary Gwyn Roper, a pediatric endocrinologist who works with children with conditions like TS, these side effects often subside once GHT is stopped.
Talk to your child’s pediatric endocrinologist about Growth Hormone Therapy to see if it is right for them.
About the Webinar
Have any other questions about GHT, like:
- What is GHT’s history?
- What are other possible side effects of GHT?
- When should a patient start and stop taking GHT?
About the Presenter
Dr. Roper chose pediatric endocrinology because of her personal experience. When she was two years old, she was diagnosed with TS, while living in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. At the time, there were no doctors who could help take care of patients with TS patients specifically. As a result, she was forced to go to UNC-Chapel Hill twice a year for treatment.
For 12 years, Dr. Roper practiced pediatric endocrinology in her hometown. Then, she moved to work at her current office, Greenville Health System. She chose to work there since she liked how many doctors of various specialties there were and how well they worked together. Dr. Roper treats her patients as individuals, accounting for their family lives as well as their different health conditions when choosing their specialized treatment.
When she is not at the hospital, Dr. Roper enjoys spending time with her husband, nieces and nephews, and dog.
Written by Elizabeth (Liz) Rivera, TSF intern and blog post writer. Edited by Susan Herman, volunteer TSF blog post editor and translator.