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Open Access Review

Early diagnosis and treatment referral of children born small for gestational age without catch-up growth are critical for optimal growth outcomes

Christopher P Houk1 and Peter A Lee23*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical College of Georgia, 1120 15th Street, Room BG1007, Augusta, GA, 30912, USA

2 Penn State College of Medicine, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, PO Box 850, Hershey, PA, 17033-0850, USA

3 Indiana University School of Medicine, The Riley Hospital for Children, 702 Barnhill Dr, Indianapolis, IN, 46202, USA

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International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology 2012, 2012:11  doi:10.1186/1687-9856-2012-11

Published: 4 May 2012

Abstract

Approximately 10% of children born small for their gestational age (SGA) fail to show catch-up growth and may remain short-statured as adults. Despite treatment guidelines for children born SGA that recommend referral for growth hormone (GH) therapy evaluation and initiation by ages 2 to 4 years, the average age of GH treatment initiation is typically much later, at ages 7 to 9 years. Delayed referral for GH treatment is problematic as studies show younger age at GH treatment initiation in children born SGA is an independent predictor for responses such as optimal growth acceleration, normalization of prepubertal height, and most importantly, adult height (AH). This review discusses the importance and associated challenges of early diagnosis of children born SGA who fail to show catch-up growth, contrasts the recommended age of referral for these patients and the average age of GH treatment initiation, and discusses studies showing the significant positive effects of early referral and treatment with GH on AHs in short-statured children born SGA. To optimize the eventual height in short-statured SGA children who fail to manifest catch-up growth, a lowering of the average age of referral for GH therapy evaluation is needed to better align with consensus recommendations for SGA management. The importance of increasing parental and physician awareness that most children born SGA will do well developmentally and will optimally benefit from early initiation of GH treatment when short-statured is addressed, as is the need to shift the age of referral to better align with consensus recommendations.

Keywords:
Hormone; GH therapy; Referral age; Short-statured; Optimal height acceleration; Gestational age; Prepubertal height; Adult height