Short Boys Three Times More Likely to Get Growth Hormone: Study

Finding suggests short girls being undertreated, while boys being overtreated

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TUESDAY, June 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Short boys are much more likely than short girls to receive growth hormones, a new study finds.

Researchers examined the medical records of more than 283,000 children and teens in the United States and found that short boys were up to three times more likely than short girls to receive recombinant human growth hormone treatment.

Specifically, males accounted for 74 percent of patients who received the hormone to treat idiopathic short stature -- shortness due to an unknown cause. Among patients who received the hormone for any diagnoses, 66 percent were male.

The biggest gender differences in treatment occurred around puberty, when less time remains to correct poor growth in children, the researchers noted.

The findings were published online June 9 in the journal Scientific Reports.

"Growth is an important sign of child health, so growth failure merits equal consideration for both boys and girls," study leader Dr. Adda Grimberg, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a hospital news release.

"Gender bias in treatment may have doubly undesirable effects -- short girls who have an underlying disease may be overlooked, while short healthy boys may receive overzealous, unnecessary treatment with an expensive drug that requires years of nightly injections and has potential side effects," Grimberg explained.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about growth disorders.

SOURCE: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, news release, June 10, 2015

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