Depression may increase with growth hormones

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Short children who are treated with growth hormone (GH) might become taller, but they might also become more depressed and withdrawn over time than their peers who are not taking GH.

Factors other than height influence mental health

“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,” explained Emily C. Walvoord, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Early data from this new study suggests that the subtle cognitive problems seen in adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) might also occur in children with GHD. This might however improve with treatment.

GH might increase depression

Dr. Walvoord and her associates evaluated the cognitive and behavioral status of children with GHD and ISS after they received growth hormone therapy and their preliminary results challenge the idea that improvements in height result in improvements in psychological health. The findings also raise concern that GH treatment might worsen emotional symptoms.

Despite improvements in height, no emotional benefit

Qualifying children with GHD and ISS were divided into two groups, one receiving GH and one control group. They were tested at the beginning and the end of a 12 month period. Initials results revealed that there was no difference in functioning from beginning to the end of the test period. However, when comparing the two groups, the depression and withdrawal symptoms in the treated GHD and ISS children have worsened. “This novel study of the cognitive and emotional effects of GH therapy in children with GHD and ISS compared to untreated short children raises concerns that, despite improvements in height, these children may not achieve psychosocial benefits,” Dr. Walvoord noted.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, ICE/ENDO 2014


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