Ethical Considerations: Growth Hormone Treatment in Children with Idiopathic Short Stature
Being short is a natural diversity of the human race. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of growth hormone (GH) for the treatment of idiopathic short stature (ISS) in children. Research has shown that GH therapy in children with ISS has a variable effect on increasing height. However, the literature has not shown the efficacy in improving psychosocial function to justify the costs and potential adverse effects. GH use in children with ISS is a subject of great ethical debate. Ethical implications including beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice are discussed. ISS requires thoughtful consideration by the patient, parents, and healthcare professionals. Well-designed long-term studies are needed to determine the benefits of such treatment.