Growth Hormone

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Some people turn to a substance called human growth hormone (HGH) in hopes that it will keep them feeling and looking youthful. But experts say that hope is unfounded. And worse, these products can be harmful.

HGH, produced by the pituitary gland, spurs growth in children and adolescents. It also helps to regulate body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function. Produced synthetically, HGH is the active ingredient in a number of prescription drugs and in other products available widely over the Internet.

HGH Uses and Abuses

Synthetic human growth hormone was developed in 1985 and approved by the FDA for specific uses in children and adults. In children, HGH injections are approved for treating short stature of unknown cause as well as poor growth due to a number of medical causes, including:

Turner’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects a girl’s development
Prader-Willi syndrome, an uncommon genetic disorder causing poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones, and a constant feeling of hunger
Chronic kidney insufficiency
HGH deficiency or insufficiency
Children born small for gestational age