Parents of a short child who believe growth hormone therapy will better his or her social life may be mistaken, new study findings suggest. Among lower and upper grade students in one public school district in New York City, height had little effect on which children were the most popular or who had the most friends. The "good news" of the study is that "teens see through physical characteristics," lead study author Dr. David E. Sandberg, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, told Reuters Health. "A person's height on its own tells us nothing about how well that individual is liked by others, perceived by others, or what they're like," he added. About 40,000 children in the United States are currently receiving treatment for growth hormone deficiencies. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration also approved the use of growth hormone to treat children who just happen to be short but are otherwise healthy. This approval was partly based on the belief that an increase in height would improve peer relationships. Yet, few studies have examined whether extremely short children indeed have social problems that are due solely to their height. To investigate, Sandberg, a pediatric psychologist, and his team conducted a study of height and social adjustment among 956 sixth-through-twelfth graders from 45 different classrooms in a Western New York public school district. Of this group, 68 students were of short stature; 58 were extremely tall, informs Reuters. According to the Canada, most importantly, say researchers, their findings challenge one of the rationales for giving some pint-sized kids years of expensive and invasive shots of artificial growth hormone in a bid to make them head-and-shoulders equals with their peers. Children in the study were generally defined as short if they were below the height of about 98 per cent of others of the same age and sex. As adults, they would be predicted to grow to four-foot-nine or less for females and five-foot-two or less for males. Growth hormone can add 1Ѕ to 2Ѕ inches on average, doctors say. "There's been a belief that children who are short are at risk for problems and that in getting rid of their shortness, one would be getting rid of their risk and helping them develop in a more adaptive or healthy way," Bukowski said from Montreal. "So if the argument is that we should try to help short children by making them taller because we (believe) that height is related to well-being, our data suggest that this association in height and well-being does not exist." The long and the short of it: "Giving them growth hormone is not going to help them," he said. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics, is the first of its kind conducted in the general population, as opposed to among children seen by doctors who specialize in deficient growth, and the researchers went right to the source for their data: 965 students in 45 classrooms who were given questionnaires on attitudes towards their peers. The students were unaware that height was one of the factors being studied. Most importantly, say researchers, their findings challenge one of the rationales for giving some pint-sized kids years of expensive and invasive shots of artificial growth hormone in a bid to make them head-and-shoulders equals with their peers. Children in the study were generally defined as short if they were below the height of about 98% of others of the same age and sex. As adults, they' be predicted to grow to 4-ft.9 or less for females and 5-ft.-2 or less for males. Growth hormones can add 1.5 to 2.5 inches on average. In Canada, provincial health plans usually cover artificial growth hormone injections for children lacking in the substance naturally, says the Calgary Sun.
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