Human Growth Hormone in Children Linked to Stroke RiskAugust 15, 2014 — Children who are treated with Human Growth Hormone (HGH) are more likely to experience strokes nearly 20 years later, according to a study published in Neurology.

These conclusions were based on data from 6,874 children in France who were diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency or short stature who started taking HGH between 1985 and 1996. Adult data was collected for 2008-2010.

During this time period, researchers found a significantly higher rate of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) and particularly subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding between the brain and tissues that cover the brain). Patients who received higher doses of HGH appeared to have the greatest risk.

Researchers cautioned:

“Data are available about the safety of growth hormone treatment during the period of administration, but we still know little about the long-term state of health of treated individuals, 10 to 20 years or more after the end of treatment.”

The study raises questions about the long-term side effects of HGH, especially for children who were given the hormones as a treatment for short stature and not a chromosomal or genetic abnormalities, such as Turner syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, or SHOX gene abnormalities. In recent years, the reported use of HGH by American teenagers has doubled.

The FDA has been investigating long-term health risks of HGH since 2010. In 2011, the FDA concluded that evidence linking HGH and death was inconclusive.

In February 2012, a study was published linking the use of growth hormone with a 33% increased risk of death, primarily due to bone tumors or cerebral hemorrhage, especially for children who received high doses.

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