Human Growth & Development
Human Growth and Development is a lifelong complex process. It mainly involves physical, behavioral, cognitive, emotional growth and development. The growth is referred as increase in the size while development is referred as progress towards achieving maturity. Human growth starts from a single cell. The growth has different stages like infancy, early childhood, childhood, late childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Every human undergoes these stages to achieve successful growth and development. Psychological development is as important as physical development of human being. Endocrine system plays an important role in the overall growth and development of human.
Growth and development is not same in all children. In some children it is faster while in some other children it is slower. Genes are also responsible for growth and development. Some children are short or tall because of their parents. Human growth and development affects due to various reasons such as genetic, environmental and others. Some children are having growth disorders which prevent children from developing normal height, weight, sexual maturity or other features.
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- Physical growth and Psychological development are two sides of the same coin. A developmental disorder is a group of psychiatric conditions originating in childhood that involve serious disability in different areas.
- General psychological disorders include language disorders, learning disorders, motor disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Severe developmental disorders like antisocial behavior and schizophrenia occur in childhood and continue throughout the life. Developmental disorders are present from early life and found in more males than females.
Hormones and Growth
- The main hormones concerned with growth are pituitary growth hormone, thyroid hormone, the pituitary gonadotropic (sex-gland-stimulating) hormones and the sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Very slow or very fast growth is a symptom of gland problemor disease. Human endocrine system is playing an important role to achieve proper growth and development.
- The Pituitary gland is a major part of endocrine system. Its main function is to make growth hormone. The growth hormone secreted by pituitary gland stimulates the growth of bone and other tissues. The malfunction of pituitary gland can cause too short or little growth in children.
- Adrenal gland disorder makes too much or not enough hormones. In Cushing’s syndrome, there is too much cortisol while with Addison’s disease, there is too little cortisol. Some people are unable to make enough cortisol which finally affects growth and development.
- Thyroid gland is located in the neck. It secretes Thyroid Hormone which is necessary for normal growth. Human cells do not develop and function properly without thyroid hormone, especially cells in the brain. Babies who have thyroid hormone malfunction at birth are small and have under developed brains.
- Testosterone hormone is secreted by the interstitial cells of the testis. It is important not only at puberty but before puberty also. Testosterone hormone is responsible for the development of certain parts of the male genital system. If testosterone is not secreted properly at a particular and circumscribed time then the genitalia can develop into the female form.
- Estrogen is a important female sex hormone. It is firstly secreted in quantity at puberty by cells in the ovary. They cause growth of the uterus, vagina, and breast. Estrogen also acts on the hip bone causing the specifically female widening.
- The pituitary gland secretes two other hormones concerned in development. One is follicle-stimulating hormone(FSH) which causes growth of the main portions of the ovary in the female and the sperm-producing cells in the testis of the male. Second hormone is the luteinizing hormone (LH) which causes growth and secretion of the testosterone secreting cells of the male and also has an action in controlling the menstrual cycle in the female.
Growth Hormone Deficiency ( GHD )
Growth hormone is a protein produced by the pituitary gland. Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a complex medical disorder which occurs due to the insufficient secretion of growth hormone. If pituitary gland or the hypothalamus is damaged, then it affects the production of growth hormone. GHD can be present at birth or develop later in life. Males are more often diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency.
Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children
- Small penis size in male
- Short height
- Slower muscular development
- Delayed puberty
- Slower tooth development
- Sluggish hair growth
- Increased fat around face
Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults
- Increased 5-alpha-reductase
- Reduced sex hormone-binding globulin
- Reduced muscle mass and strength
- Baldness in men
- Reduced bone mass and osteoporosis
- Reduced energy
- Low concentration, anxiety, depression and memory loss
- Increased body fat, particularly around the waistline
- Lipid abnormality like higher LDL cholesterol
- Cardiac dysfunction including a thickened intima media
Causes of Growth Hormone Deficiency
Growth hormone deficiency is mainly caused by low or no secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. This can be caused by congenital (a condition present at birth) or acquired (a condition that occurs after birth) conditions. Other causes include:
- Genetic mutations
- Congenital diseases such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome, or short stature homeobox gene (SHOX) deficiency
- Congenital malformations involving the pituitary like septo-optic dysplasia, posterior pituitary ectopia
- Chronic renal insufficiency
- Intracranial tumors
- Damage to the pituitary gland from radiation therapy to the head (e.g. for leukemia or brain tumors), from surgery, from trauma or from intracranial disease like hydrocephalus
- Autoimmune inflammation
Diagnosis of Growth Hormone Deficiency
Both children and adults are diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency and the exams and tests used to diagnose growth hormone deficiency are the same for children and adults.
- Blood Test
Blood testing include insulin tolerance test, growth hormone stimulation test, and binding protein level test. Blood test is done to measure the amount of growth hormone levels in the blood and levels of hormones produced by pituitary gland.
- Imaging Test
Imaging tests include X rays, CT scan and MRI scan. X ray test is done to measure bone density while MRI scan of the brain is performed by the doctor to see pituitary gland and hypothalamus.
Treatment of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children
Children requiring treatment usually receive daily injections of growth hormone. Most pediatric endocrinologists monitor growth and adjust dose every 3–6 months. Treatment is usually extended as long as the child is growing and lifelong continuation is also recommended for children who are suffering from severe growth hormone deficiency disease.
Treatment of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children
Adults undergo growth hormone therapy treatment which involves injections (shots) of growth hormone made in a laboratory. The goal is to replace the natural growth hormone and to reverse the symptoms of GHD. Growth Hormone Therapy is very beneficial for adults. It has various benefits such as increase in energy, stronger bones, improvements in heart functions and fat reduction in the body.
Dr Sudhindra Kulkarni is a well known Diabetologist and Endocrinologist in Andheri, Mumbai. He is a specialist in the Hormonal imbalance diseases. Dr Sudhindra Kulkarni’s Glands Clinic in Andheri, Mumbai is a well equipped with advanced medical techniques to provide all types of treatments to diabetes and other Hormonal diseases. Dr Sudhindra Kulkarni has a comprehensive knowledge of hormonal imbalance diseases. He has a good experience about procedures involved in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes as well as other Hormonal diseases.