Short stature is less likely to have an endocrine basis than is commonly thought. Any of a number of chronic systemic diseases can slow growth, short stature may result from a genetic tendency or disorder, growth may be constitutionally delayed, or it may be retarded by intrauterine influences. True endocrine causes include thyroid or adrenal disorder, growth hormone deficiency, and psychosocial dwarfism. Although growth hormone deficiency is quite rare, it has received increased attention recently. The capability to produce human growth hormone by recombinant DNA techniques presents the prospect that replacement therapy will be more readily available to those patients who might benefit from it. Caution is called for, however, in making use of this agent for patients other than those with proven growth hormone deficiency.
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