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Growth Hormone Therapy Can Help Children With Kidney Failure Grow Taller

Update Date: Apr 05, 2013 01:17 PM EDT

Growth hormone therapy can help treat symptoms in children with kidney failure, according to a new study.

The study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) reveals that growth hormone therapy can reverse growth problems in children suffering kidney failure.

However, the treatment may make it harder for doctors to assess patients' bone health by blood tests alone.  Researchers explain that the growth hormone therapy increases bone turnover and interrupts the relationship between bone turnover and a blood marker of bone health.

Chronic liver disease can lead to short stature and physical and psychological abnormalities.  Researchers said abnormally high or abnormally low bone turnover can increase the severity of growth retardation in children with kidney disease, therefore finding a normal balance is important. While recombinant human growth often helps, the response is variable in children on dialysis.

Researches wanted to evaluate the direct effect of recombinant human growth hormone therapy on the skeleton in pediatric patients.

Researchers conducted a randomized trail of 33 pediatric dialysis patients to therapy with or without growth hormone.

The found that growth hormone therapy resulted in greater increases in height and, enhanced bone turnover in patients with baseline low bone turnover. However, the therapy counteracted the bone-turnover lowering effects of vitamin D therapy in patients with high bone turnover. Researchers also found that the parathyroid hormone values were similar in patients who received growth hormone compared to those who did not despite significantly differences in final rates of bone formation.

Researchers said the findings suggest that growth hormone therapy may help treat poor growth and low bone turnover in children on dialysis.  While it may also improve growth in children with high bone turnover, it may not benefit their overall bone health.

"Pediatric patients treated with growth hormone had better improvements in height than those on standard therapy. The therapy enhanced bone turnover in patients with baseline low bone turnover while not altering bone formation in patients with high bone turnover," researcher Dr. Katherine Wesseling-Perry of David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, growth hormone interrupts the relationship between bone turnover and parathyroid hormone-a marker that is used to judge bone health in these patients-making it difficult to assess bone health by blood tests alone," she added. 

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