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Growth Hormone To Make Kids Taller

Question of the Week

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Updated October 27, 2004

Q. My wife and I recently gave birth to a baby boy 5 months ago. I wanted to ask about the use of growth hormone when he grows older. I am 6'1" and my wife is 5'5". I know that he will be probably over 5'10", but if we were considering growth hormone supplements when he approaches puberty (many years from now of course), what types of things should we be concerned about for his safety? Michael, Newark, NJ

A. Using our height predictor, you can see that your son has the 'genetic potential' to be about 5 feet and 11 1/2 inches tall.

And unless he develops some kind of growth hormone deficiency, he will not need growth hormone to make him taller.

Although it is a wonderful medication for many short children, it is not helpful to make children who are growing normally even taller. In addition to children with growth hormone deficiency, Turner syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, chronic renal insufficiency, and premature babies who are small for gestational age, it was also recently approved for use in children with idiopathic short stature. These short children would be predicted to be less than 5'3" tall as an adult male or 4'11" tall as an adult female.

Why can't normal children take growth hormone to make them even taller?

For one reason, it isn't approved by the FDA to be used in that manner.

And then there is the high cost for growth hormone ($10,000 to $25,000 a year) and the need for frequent injections (six shots a week) for many years.

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