Magazine article USA TODAY

Stop Targeting Healthy Short Children

Magazine article USA TODAY

Stop Targeting Healthy Short Children

Article excerpt

Many short kids are perfectly healthy. Their height is a matter of genetic makeup rather than any medical problem resulting in short stature. Despite this, many parents are turning to human growth hormone injections in an attempt to add inches to their offspring. While it is understandable that parents worry about their children's short stature since we live in a society that engages in heightism (the pervasive cultural bias favoring the tall over the short), employing human growth hormone treatments potentially is harmful on many levels, maintains Ellen Frankel in Beyond Measure: A Memoir About Short Stature and Inner Growth.

In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of human growth hormone therapy for very short, healthy children, yet the safety and efficacy of this practice raises many red flags, Frankel insists. The treatment involves subjecting a youngster to daily injections over a five-year period at an annual cost of $20,000. Research has revealed that, on average, a child may add 1 1/2 inches to final adult height, if any added inches occur at all.

It appears that, while some children may grow faster as a result of treatment, they do not necessarily grow taller; they simply reach their adult height sooner. …

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