“Children with short stature have a number of disadvantages compared to their peers, such as juvenilization, teasing and bullying, exclusion from peer activities, and loss of independence or overprotection,” said an Eli Lilly and Company representative. “Height gain, as a result of treatment, can make a huge difference in a child’s life.”
According to Dr. Abby Hollander, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the drug is generally offered only on a case-by-case basis to the shortest 1.2 percent of boys and girls, who are expected to reach adult heights of less than 5 feet 3 inches and 4 feet 11 inches, respectively.
Dr. Pinchas Cohen, professor and chief of endocrinology at UCLA, agreed that such short stature is an abnormality stemming from an unidentified disorder.
“I believe that this is an important step for the medical community, but that it will require physicians to maintain a high standard of care in terms of evaluating children with short stature,” he said.
“In terms of safety,” he added, growth hormone “is a naturally circulating hormone that we all have. As a drug, it is one of the safest we prescribe.”
Libby Kershner, 20, a sociology major at Brandeis University, couldn’t agree more.
She received daily Humatrope injections from age 9 to 14, and at 5-feet-2-½ inches tall, is now nearly 6 inches taller than doctors had predicted.
Once the victim of relentless ridicule, Libby said she is now considered an equal among her peers.
“Not only was I physically taller, but I was emotionally taller as well,” she said, referring to her renewed self-esteem after completing the Humatrope regimen.
“Taking and benefiting from the [growth hormone] gave me confidence that I couldn’t have gotten any other way.”
In a statement from Eli Lilly, the company said Humatrope will “make an important difference in the growth rate and final height of children with short stature whose growth failure has not yet been determined.”