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Treating Low Growth Hormone in Childhood May Thwart Later Ills

Rats given supplementation had better brain function in adulthood, researchers say

FRIDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Treating growth-hormone deficiency in children could prevent memory defects in adulthood, new research in rats suggests.

Children with the condition can grow up to develop learning and memory deficits. It hasn't been clear if hormone supplementation -- which is given to help the kids grow taller -- can help fend off the cognitive problems.

Researchers studied rats with genetic mutations that make them produce less growth hormone than normal. Then they tested their memory by measuring how they performed in a water maze.

Some of the mice were treated with hormone supplementation, just like human adolescents.

In a test at 18 months, the hormone-deficient mice performed significantly worse than the rats that were given supplementation and the rats that received a saline solution.

In a statement, Michelle Nicolle, a research professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., said the treatment prevents loss of "brain function later in life. This shows that growth-hormone replacement during adolescence is important not only for increasing growth but also for brain maturation."

The study was published Jan. 13 in the Journal of Endocrinology.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more on growth problems.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Society for Endocrinology, news release, Jan. 13, 2010

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