Treatment for height may cause depression in kids

New York: Short, healthy children who are treated with growth hormone (GH) may become taller, but they may also become more depressed and withdrawn over time, a new study warns.

"Daily injections, frequent clinic visits and repeated discussions about height might exacerbate instead of improve psychosocial concerns in children with idiopathic short stature (ISS) who are otherwise healthy, and give them no cognitive improvements," said Emily Walvoord, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in the US.

While the link between using GH to increase height and improved psychological adaptation is being debated, early data suggests that the subtle cognitive problems seen in adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) might also occur in children with GHD and might improve with treatment.

The findings also raise concerns that GH treatment of these otherwise healthy children might even worsen their emotional symptoms.

Compared with the untreated ISS children, whose depression and withdrawal according to their parents' questionnaire responses have lessened over that period, the depression and withdrawal symptoms in the treated GHD and ISS children have worsened.

"Our findings raise concerns that despite improvements in height, these children may not achieve psychosocial benefits," Walvoord added.

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