While the benefits of growth hormone (GH) therapy in adult hypopituitary patients with GH deficiency (GHD) are established, the role of continued GH therapy after final height in adolescent GH-deficient patients remains unclear. Preliminary data suggest that cessation of GH on completion of linear growth may be associated with impairment of somatic development and adverse changes in body composition. For the present time, the decision whether to continue GH treatment in adolescent patients with GHD is best made on an individual basis. For such patients, continuity of care is crucial. Children and adults with GHD are usually managed by physicians in separate departments, who may focus on different aspects of treatment and care. Close collaboration between paediatric and adult physicians is essential to ensure smooth transition and to minimize the drop-out rate from follow-up. Given the previous period of treatment during childhood, paediatric physicians should be best placed to discuss the potential benefits of continuing GH therapy and instigate retesting of GH secretion. Many children with isolated idiopathic GHD will produce normal GH responses if retested at adult height. Patients with multiple pituitary hormone deficits are more likely to have ongoing GHD, as are patients who have received CNS irradiation. Quality of life does not appear to be decreased in adolescents with GHD who stop treatment, so achievement of satisfactory bone mass is a major determinant of the decision whether to continue therapy.
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