Being the shortest kid in class, can create a difficult time for the child. Name-calling, being picked on, and even humiliation when they are the last person chosen in gym class. In a perfect world none of this would happen, but it still does and kids who are really short tend to be teased regularly. But the modern day family can actually change that for their child with human growth hormone injections, which are FDA approved to be used on children that are short.
If you thought this use of HGH was uncommon, you’d be wrong. It’s actually becoming very common for children who are shorter than average to have HGH therapy, especially in the United States. For short kids, only one-thing matters and that is fitting in. For those who have struggled to grow 3 to 4 inches a year, HGH growth therapy for children might be exactly what’s needed.
Artificial Human Growth Hormone Therapy
The synthetic growth hormone is practically identical to a natural hormone that all of us produce in our pituitary gland. The amount of human growth hormone produces is highest in children. HGH tells our muscles and bones to grow. Since children grow mostly at night, HGH therapy usually occurs before bedtime.
For a couple of decades now, artificial human growth hormone has been used to treat children who do not produce an adequate supply of growth hormone on their own. What’s different currently is that the FDA approved the use of human growth hormone on all children not just those with a growth disorder. This approval allows the use of HGH for children that are simply short, with no underlying condition.
In many ways, the FDA approval is really just about formalities since these treatments have been going on for a long time, and it’s always been legal.
The FDA’s approval of human growth hormone for use in healthy children was based on studies presented by Eli Lilly. The studies showed that if a child received hormone injections three times per week, they would grow an average of 1.5 inches. With shots six times per week at a higher dose, they would grow on average 3 inches. In approximately 10 percent of the children, the drug did not work at all. Side effects were mild and included joint pain, muscle pain, and ear infections.
With the number of healthy children now using growth hormone on the increase, parents are wondering how safe the drug really is.
Dr. Glenn Braunstein, chairman of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, chaired the FDA advisory panel that reviewed Eli Lilly’s application.
“It’s got a very good safety profile,” says Braunstein.
“What we don’t know is what’s going to happen 30, 40 years down the road,’ says Braunstein.”But that’s true of any drug.”
When asked whether it was worth any risk to use HGH treatments that are healthy, Braunstein replied, “Yes. I agree. And that’s why you have to weigh the risk versus the benefit. So if the benefit is going to be potentially increased height, less social isolation or bullying, a child that is happier, than a small risk may be worth it.”
Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist from the University of Pennsylvania, sees this is a critical moment in time because we can no improve healthy children artificially.
“Every kid has something they’re not good at; every person has something that is less than normal. That’s what we have to live with in life. We don’t try to fix it with drugs. We sort of say we’ve got to learn to cope with some of our foibles, something that’s less than perfect. That’s what humans are.”
Marketing HGH for Short Children
The concern would be that this doesn’t become a marketing opportunity for companies. Let’s be honest, every child will likely feel a little short at some time in their childhood, and strong marketing techniques could target these children and encourage them to ask their parents for HGH therapy. The question will become what’s too short and should justify treatment?
Another question that arises is what kind of parents would take their child down this road.
Author Caplan says, “It’s a kind of canary in the cave. There’s a whole slew of things coming down the road, where we’re going to have the same discussions. And I think what parents are going to do is, they’re going to face the question, ‘How much manipulations, how much engineering do I want to do on my child?”
Clearly, there are going to be many dilemmas relating to the use of HGH therapy as an intervention for being too short. That could be a perceived too short or a very real too short. There will also likely be conflicts over what is appropriate advertising and what is not.
HGH supplements are a great choice that works well for most individuals unless you have significantly low human growth hormone levels, in which case, you should see your doctor. And one last question comes to mind. If HGH supplements and HGH injections have been approved as safe for use in children, why is there so much controversy over adults using the human growth hormone.