If your child is diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD), you’ll likely have many questions before you start treatment with growth hormone injections. After all, your child is about to embark on a treatment journey that could last for many years.
Your child’s pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist who specializes in treating children with hormone disorders.
Here are some questions to ask at your next visit.
How much growth should I expect from the growth hormone treatments?
Over time, you’ll see your child grow, but you shouldn’t expect growth to happen overnight. You and your child’s doctor can discuss realistic short- and long-term expectations for growth and any other changes that might happen once treatment starts.
What’s the best way to give injections?
A pediatrician who has experience treating children with GHD will likely have some tips and tricks for giving growth hormone injections. This can include ways to keep your child calm and minimize pain and bruising. They can also show you the best places on your child’s body to give the injections and explain how to rotate injection sites.
What devices are available?
There are many approved devices for giving growth hormone injections. You’ll likely hear the devices described as electronic, automatic, needle-free, manual, ready-to-use, or disposable.
Each device has its pros and cons. Talk to your child’s doctor about the individual features of each device to help decide which one is best for your child.
What is a growth chart?
Pediatricians usually track a child’s growth using growth charts. These charts allow them to compare growth to other children of the same age over time. If you’ve ever seen a growth chart, you’ll notice that it includes a lot of different measurements, as well as straight and curvy lines.
Sit down with your child’s doctor so they can explain how to read the growth chart and what information can be gathered from it.
What will happen at future appointments?
At each visit, your child’s doctor will likely be measuring and recording your child’s growth on a growth chart. Depending on your child’s progress, the doctor may also need to adjust the dose of growth hormone.
Future visits might also include testing for bone and metabolic health. Ask the doctor what to expect during future appointments and how often your child will need to go. As your child will likely be under the care of both a pediatrician and an endocrinologist, find out which doctor will manage medication dosing and refills and who to contact for acute and routine questions.
What are the risks and side effects of treatment?
Fortunately, growth hormone injections are considered safe. The most common side effects are headaches and pain and redness at the injection site.
More serious side effects can occur if your child’s dose of growth hormone isn’t quite right for them. Be sure to ask the doctor how to recognize when something is wrong and when you should return for a dose adjustment.
Is my child at risk for other health problems?
People with GHD may be at a higher risk of having metabolic issues in the future, like diabetes and heart disease. They may also have a higher risk of having a bone disease called osteoporosis.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician about potential complications in the future and any steps you can take now to prevent them.
When will treatment stop?
Treatment will likely continue until at least puberty, but some people need to remain on treatment for their entire lives. Your child’s doctor can give you a better idea of how long they expect your child will need growth hormone injections.
What kind of support is available for children and their parents?
Last, but certainly not least, ask your child’s doctor to refer you to support groups for your child and yourself. A diagnosis of GHD can be stressful and alarming for parents at first. It can be very helpful to talk to other parents who have experience with it.
For children with GHD, it can be difficult to be the smallest one out of all of their peers. Many teens with GHD have low self-esteem and may experience bullying in school. It’s important to be aware of your child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Your child’s doctor can recommend counselors or support groups for your child.