Growth hormone—called somatotropin—is a hormone designated to stimulate growth and cell reproduction in the body. This hormone is produced in the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of your brain, and then released into the blood.
When your pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone, your growth can slow.
Although growth hormone deficiency is more commonly seen in children, it’s possible for anyone to develop growth hormone deficiency.
If it’s present at birth, it’s called congenital growth hormone deficiency. However, you can also develop growth hormone deficiency during childhood or as an adult as a result of a trauma, such as a severe brain injury, or another medical condition. When children or adults acquire this condition, it’s called acquired growth hormone deficiency.
Depending on when you develop it, growth hormone deficiency can have different effects.
Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children
Because growth hormone is crucial for normal growth and development, children who have growth hormone deficiency are usually abnormally shorter than children who don’t have the condition. Also, puberty is often delayed in many children who have growth hormone deficiency, and some may never go through puberty.
In addition to physical development, growth hormone is also important for normal brain function.
Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults
Even when we stop growing, we still need growth hormone. It’s needed to maintain the proper amounts of fat, muscle, tissue, and bone in our bodies.
Adults with growth hormone deficiency often have poor bone density and reduced muscle mass, and mental and emotional symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, and poor memory, are also common. Read our symptoms of growth hormone deficiency article to find out other signs of growth hormone deficiency.
If growth hormone deficiency goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can lead to other conditions, such as an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol and osteoporosis.
But what are the causes, and how do you treat growth hormone deficiency? This series of articles addresses these questions and fills you in on the details of growth hormone deficiency.