By Mrs Jeyamany Palanivel
When I first learned that my daughter Darshana was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Disorder (GHD), I was very scared. The thought of what was going to happen to her in the future kept playing in my mind. I was very worried. I never expected her to have GHD as my older daughter is rather tall and the rest of my family members are all of average height.
Before her GHD diagnosis was confirmed, my husband and I had taken Darshana to the clinic to regularly monitor her growth as she was always the shortest in her class. Darshana was upset that she was not growing tall like her friends. We did our best to reassure her and provided her with an encouraging environment. Based on the growth chart, my husband and I were convinced that Darshana was not growing as tall as she should. We also learned that Darshana was iron deficient.
With a growing concern for Darshana’s height issues, we took her to a private hospital to see a paediatrician. Upon evaluating Darshana’s growth trajectory over the years, the paediatrician expressed concern that her height was outside the normal growth range. We were recommended to see a paediatric endocrinologist immediately, which we did.
Darshana was 11 years old when we consulted with a paediatric endocrinologist. It was a very enlightening session and my husband and I became more positive about Darshana’s height issue.
Confirming that Darshana was below the expected height range for her age, the paediatric endocrinologist proceeded with several blood tests. Darshana tested positive for GHD, a medical related condition from birth. The paediatric endocrinologist recommended that Darshana undergo growth hormone treatment for five years. This involved Darshana self-administering daily growth hormone injections.
Although initially hesitant, Darshana agreed after further discussions. As parents, we were happy with her decision as we wanted to give her the opportunity to grow in height like normal children.
People have asked me how I cope with Darshana’s GHD. Truthfully, in the beginning when Darshana was diagnosed with GHD, I was very down, depressed and demotivated. Although I had the support of my husband, family members and our paediatric endocrinologist, I still felt very much alone and scared. I didn’t have the opportunity or access to speak to other parents with GHD children who may have been going through the same anguish as I was going through. However, I decided that I had to be strong and optimistic for Darshana.
My advice to parents with GHD children is, foremost, to never take this issue lightly as GHD is a health condition. If you’re feeling down, always remember that there is a solution for everything. If you suspect that your child is not growing tall when compared to his or her friends, go and see a paediatric endocrinologist for diagnosis and treatment options. Follow all instructions for growth hormone therapy given by the paediatric endocrinologist and inject the growth hormones as prescribed.
Today, Darshana is 14 years old and is a very happy child. She is faring well with her growth hormone treatments. She is 150 cm in height and her last growth is expected to be at 155 cm. My husband and I are very glad that we pursued growth hormone treatment for Darshana. She can now face the world, taller and with confidence. And as parents, we are walking this journey with her.