Although it’s rare, children can develop heart enlargement and heart failure, which ultimately makes a heart transplant necessary. Now, researchers report that treatment with synthetic human growth hormone appears to benefit such children. Dr. Doff B. McElhinney of Children’s Hospital, Boston, and colleagues note in the medical journal Pediatrics that growth hormone therapy improves heart function and reduces enlargement in adults with the condition. To investigate whether the approach might work for kids, the researchers studied eight children with heart failure due to heart enlargement. Two of the patients withdrew from the study because their condition worsened and they went on to cardiac transplantation. The remaining children were given human growth hormone by daily subcutaneous injection over a 6-month period, as well as conventional therapy. The researchers observed a trend toward improved heart function, and this continued 6 months after treatment ended. This “may represent progression or perpetuation of a growth hormone treatment effect,” the researchers conclude.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, October 2004.