Things I Wish I Knew Before My Child Started Growth Hormone

3 min read
Feb 7, 2024
From time to time, a guest post about something meaningful for our patients and readers is a great change. Here I introduce you to Sydney O'Neill, a wonderful mother of two children with growth hormone deficiency. She and I met long after her kids started growth hormone. What struck me about our conversations is that she says the same things we hear from a lot of people who meet us later in their child's growth journey.  We hope you find this helpful, to support you sooner with your family!
- Toni Kim, MD


When faced with the challenges of pediatric growth hormone deficiency (GHD), we often find ourselves navigating uncharted waters. As a parent of two children diagnosed with GHD, I've come to realize that the journey involves more than just understanding the medical aspects. It's a holistic experience that encompasses physical, emotional, and practical considerations. Here are just a few key insights that I wish I had known before and during our quest for answers and starting treatment.

1. Beyond Height:
Pediatric GHD extends beyond a child's height, influencing dental health, muscle and fat distribution, cardiovascular well-being,  bone health, and more. However, the emotional toll cannot be understated. Our children desire not just height but the ability to be treated as "normal" or equal to their peers. Recognizing and addressing the impact on their self-esteem can be just as crucial as their physical health.

2. Empower Yourself with Knowledge:
It's okay to ask questions and seek understanding. As parents, we deserve to be active partners in our child's care. Request explanations at a level you can comprehend, ensuring you're informed and confident in decisions related to diagnosis, treatment, and management.

3. Time Sensitivity:
Recognize that time is a critical factor in treating GHD. Once growth plates begin to close, treatment opportunities diminish and soon will cease to be an option. Be proactive in seeking solutions to capitalize on every available moment to receive treatment. Do not let the window of opportunity close on your child. This couldn’t be more true considering the unpredictability of real-world issues like the current GHD drug shortages that can affect your child's growth trajectory and rob them of critical time.

4. Advocacy Matters:
You are your child's strongest advocate. If you feel unheard or dissatisfied with their medical care, don't hesitate to speak up and fight for your child's needs. Seek second opinions, visit different pediatric endocrinology practices in your area, or be willing to explore beyond geographical boundaries if necessary to find a trusted doctor who fights for your child.

Seek second opinions, visit different pediatric endocrinology practices in your area, or be willing to explore beyond geographical boundaries if necessary to find a trusted doctor who fights for your child.


5. Filtering Advice:

Navigating through unsolicited advice requires resilience. Learn to filter well-intentioned yet uninformed opinions from friends and family. Trust in the thorough testing and medical expertise that guides your child's treatment plan.


6. Emotional Resilience:
Acknowledge and allow yourself time to process the emotional journey. Balancing the anxiety of searching for answers, excitement of finally reaching a diagnosis, and the sometimes crushing weight of the challenges of treatment can be overwhelming. It's okay to experience a range of emotions and seek support when needed, as you are not alone.

7. Girls Deserve Equal Attention:
Challenge the notion that GHD is only a concern for boys. Advocate for your daughters, realizing that GHD impacts more than just final adult height. Girls, too, deserve comprehensive care and attention.


8. Awareness of Treatment Options:
When starting the treatment journey, be aware that you have options. Explore informational resources, online support groups, and foundations connecting families with GHD. Understand the diversity of treatment options, from different drugs with varying degrees of injection frequency to the various delivery methods and devices as you should choose one that best fits your lifestyle and needs. You have the right to request and fight for access and coverage of medications that best aligns with your child's needs.

Embarking on a journey with pediatric growth hormone deficiency requires resilience, empowerment, and a proactive approach. As I share my personal insights and experiences, I hope to connect with other parents navigating the same path. By understanding the multifaceted nature of GHD and being advocates for our children, we can navigate the challenges with knowledge, compassion, and the determination to secure the best possible care for our children.

Get Email Notifications