Children who suffer from growth hormone deficiency disorders are often treated with human growth hormone to help progress delayed growth and puberty rates. However, a recent study published in Neurology has found that this can increase the risk of stroke in early adulthood.
Common side-effects of growth hormone use may include retention of fluid, joint and muscle aches, headache and slippage of bones at the hip. However, few are also aware of the increased stroke risk.
"We believe the tens of thousands of people worldwide who are treated with growth hormones should be informed about this risk," says corresponding study author Dr. Joël Coste, via Medical News Today. "More research is needed to show whether the growth hormone treatment is the cause of this increased risk, but in the meantime parents and doctors should consider this association as they weigh their options for treatment."
To further examine this risk, researchers studied 6,874 people born from 1990 from the French cohort of the project who began recombinant growth hormone treatment between 1985 and 1996 to treat short stature or growth hormone deficiency issues.
Patients were then followed up with via health questionnaires and medical record reviews from 2008 to 2010. Seventeen years followed the average length of time between the commencing of treatments and final follow-up, with growth-hormone treatments lasting an average of 3.9 years.
During the follow-up period, researchers found that 11 of the participants had a stroke around the age of 24; eight were hemorrhagic strokes, caused by arteries in and around the brain bursting or leaking, while the remaining three were caused by an ischemic stroke, that's caused by a narrowing or blocking of arteries to the brain.
Comparison of the findings to two registries of patients recording stroke rates based in Dijon, France and Oxford, UK, also showed an increased stroke rate in the growth-hormone group, overall.
"Doctors who prescribe growth hormone treatment will need to discuss this association, consider its strengths and weaknesses and weigh it in their recommendations," concluded Dr. Rebecca Ichord, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "And people who have taken the therapy or start it should be informed about the signs of stroke, the importance of seeking treatment quickly and prevention strategies."