Which clinical history findings are characteristic of acquired hyposomatotropism (growth hormone deficiency [GHD])?

Updated: Jan 24, 2019
  • Author: Sunil Kumar Sinha, MD; Chief Editor: Robert P Hoffman, MD  more...
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Acquired GHD can have multiple sources. By the age of 6-12 months, infants with GHD clearly demonstrate an abnormally low growth velocity. Skeletal proportions remain normal, but skeletal age is delayed, often to less than 60% of the infant's chronologic age [45, 46, 47] . Delay in dental eruption may precede this finding. Characteristic facies in patients with GHD result from retarded growth of the facial bones. Closure of the fontanelles is often delayed and results in frontal bossing and hydrocephalus. The nasal bridge may be markedly underdeveloped, and the orbits may be shallow; these alterations result in disproportionate cephalofacial relationships.

The weight-to-height ratio tends to be increased, just as the ratio of fat to lean muscle is elevated because of the absence of the effect of GH on the peripheral tissues. Decreased development of lean muscle results in poor muscular tone during infancy and early childhood; this sometimes leads to gross motor delays. Hair growth is sparse, and nails are thin and grow slowly. Laryngeal hypoplasia results in continuation of the prepubescent voice in boys with GHD.

Puberty may be delayed by 3-7 years despite normal gonadotropin release. This is likely related to the delay in skeletal age. For reasons that remain incompletely understood, skeletal development must be of a certain age (at least 9 yr for girls and 10 yr for boys) for puberty to ensue. Despite this delay, sexual function and fertility are normal in people with GHD. Although micropenis may occur during infancy in the congenital form of GHD, the penis is normal for the person's body size during adulthood.

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