Causes of Child Onset Growth Hormone Deficiency Impact Adult Mortality and Socio-Economic Status

Chemical structure of human growth hormone, a natural hormone that is used both as a drug and as a doping agentGrowth hormone deficiency (GHD) in childhood has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. A study examines the long-lasting socio-economic effects of child onset GHD that can persist into adulthood.

The study, led by researchers in the Aarhus University Hospital’s Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine in Denmark, was published online in the European Journal of Endocrinology in August 2012. It is titled, “Mortality and socio-economic status in adults with childhood onset growth hormone deficiency is highly dependent on the primary cause of GHD.”

The study authors examined data on 416 people with GHD (260 men and 156 women). The data set also included information on 25,358 male and 15,110 female controls for comparison purposes. The patients with GHD were split into groups with idiopathic GHD, malignant tumors, craniopharyngioma, and other subgroups, and analyzed separately.

Researchers analyzed data on the following factors: participants’ level of education, income, retirement, parenthood, convictions, cohabitation, and death. Cox regression was used to analyze the majority of the outcomes; conditional logistic regression was used to analyze participants’ income.

The results suggest that adults with GHD face significantly worse socio-economic outcomes based on the examined factors. These findings held for both men and women. For example, people with GHD: were less likely to live in partnerships (Male hazard ratio (HR): 0.31; Female HR: 0.33); had lower incomes and were more likely to retire than people without GHD (Male HR: 13.4; female HR: 24.2); had lower levels of education (Male HR: 0.58; female HR: 0.48); and, had higher mortality (male HR: 10.7; female HR: 21.4).

However, the results showed that study participants with idiopathic GHD had socio-economic profiles that were similar to those of the control group. The study authors conclude that the primary cause of child onset GHD and associated diseases have significant negative effects on the socio-economic status and mortality of people with GHD; patients in the idiopathic GHD subgroup were the only GHD patients who had outcomes similar to the controls.

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