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OBJECTIVE: Reversibility of GH insufficiency with a change of environment is characteristic of psychosocial dwarfism, and excludes an organic endocrinopathy. However, the change in GH pulsatility has not previously been described. We therefore wished to study spontaneous GH secretion before and after change to a more favourable environment in 11 children with psychosocial deprivation and short stature in order to evaluate if separation from the families can modify their patterns of GH secretion. PATIENTS AND DESIGN: We describe 11 prepubertal children (6 M and 5 F; 2.2-13.5 years of age) who had growth failure and psychosocial deprivation. They were diagnosed by a multidisciplinary team as having environmental growth failure after admission to hospital for 3 weeks. Six of them were discovered to have been sexually abused. During the uninterrupted hospital admission parental access was restricted. Three sets of 18-hour GH profiles were performed on each child, except one child who had only two, during the 3-week admission. MEASUREMENTS: Pulse analysis of GH profiles was by Fourier transformation. RESULTS: On the first day of admission spontaneous GH secretion demonstrated a spectrum of abnormalities in the pattern of basal values, pulse frequency and pulse amplitude. Such GH insufficiency showed reversibility during the 3 weeks in hospital. Indeed, there was a significant increase in GH secretion which was amplitude modulated without any significant modification in pulse frequency. CONCLUSION: Our data indicate that there is abnormal physiological GH secretion in children with psychosocial deprivation, which is associated with growth failure. Despite a pathological situation, each child retained his own characteristic pattern of GH pulsatility. The pattern of reversibility of abnormal GH pulsatility provides information for the mechanism of the control of GH secretion.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Endocrinol (Oxf)

Publication Date





687 - 692


Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Dwarfism, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Growth Hormone, Humans, Male, Psychosocial Deprivation, Secretory Rate