Growth hormone treatment of renal growth failure during infancy and early childhood

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Despite major progress in dialysis, nutrition and drug treatment in the past 20 years, growth of infants and toddlers with chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a major challenge in paediatric nephrology. Our hypothesis is that early growth deficit is one of the most important factors for impaired final height in children with CKD, and we conclude that early implementation of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) therapy should be offered to infants with growth failure. Infants with delayed growth, adequate caloric intake and stable parameters of bone metabolism are candidates for rhGH therapy. One predictive factor for the selection of infants for rhGH treatment may be growth retardation at birth. Our conclusion from the limited published data is that the use of rhGH in young children with CKD is effective and safe. Compared with its use in older children, the early use of growth hormone requires lower absolute dosages of rhGH, which therefore reduce the annual treatment costs and allow earlier renal transplantation. Furthermore, an early start on rhGH improves the psychosocial situation later in childhood and may lead to a further improvement in adult height. A multi-centre randomised controlled study should be initiated to analyse the short-term and long-term effects of early rhGH therapy on infants with CKD.

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