HOW DOCTORS CHECK FOR GROWTH AND HORMONE DISORDERS
Normal growth is the result of many factors, including nutrition, genetics, and hormones. If your child’s doctor has concerns about your child's growth, he or she may refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist. This is a doctor who specializes in growth and hormone problems.
The specialist may order further tests. Examples of some of these tests are provided below. Remember that each patient is different and only your doctor can decide which tests—if any—are needed.
Most likely, the doctor will start with a review of your child's and your family’s medical history. He or she may also review your child's growth chart and complete a full physical examination.
To help gain a better picture, he or she may also order blood and lab tests. These can be used to rule out possible medical conditions that can cause poor growth.
If the doctor suspects that your child is not making enough growth hormone, he or she may also do a growth hormone stimulation test, also called a stim test.
What to expect if your doctor recommends a stim test for your child:
- An intravenous (IV) needle will be placed into your child's arm or hand. This helps the doctor or nurse to collect more than one blood sample with only one needle prick
- A medicine will be given to your child through the IV to help your child's body release growth hormone
- Blood samples will also be taken from this IV at different times over a few hours
- After the test, the blood samples will be sent to a laboratory to determine if your child's body produced the expected amount of growth hormone
- The doctor or nurse can tell you about any possible side effects of the test. For example, your child may feel tired and want to rest after the test
There are other types of tests the doctor may do:
Bone-age x-ray of your child's hand and wrist. This is used to see if his or her bone growth is delayed or advanced compared with other children
Genetic tests to identify hereditary diseases affecting growth
MRI scan (or CT scan) that shows an image of the pituitary gland to evaluate any changes
These tests can help pinpoint the causes of slow growth in children.
If you have concerns about your child's growth, talk to your pediatrician about it. The sooner your child is evaluated, the sooner you can begin a treatment plan.
While adults may not grow in the same ways as children, hormones affect how we develop throughout our lives. Together, growth hormone (GH) and an associated protein, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), help keep our bodies in a normal state by promoting growth and development. GH and IGF-I impact many aspects of adult wellness, including bone health, metabolism, and organ growth.
If you are an adult who is concerned about your development, speak with your doctor to determine what steps to take next.