In order to investigate the value of growth hormone (GH) treatment during late puberty, we studied the effect of human GH (hGH) administration (0.85 ± 0.30 IU/kg/week; range: 0.44–1.28) on height velocity (HV) after the peak of the pubertal growth spurt in a group of 10 (4 girls and 6 boys) short normal children (GH peak after pharmacological stimulation: 15.5 ± 2.3 ng/ml) with growth retardation (height: 2.6 ± 0.3 SD) and puberty Tanner stage 4. A group of 10 untreated children, observed prior to the study, served as controls. The children were regularly measured during their pubertal growth spurt, and HV (cm/year) was calculated every 6 months. The pretreatment evaluation consisted of 2 consecutive 6-month periods characterized by a decrease in HV of at least 25%. In the group of selected children, hGH administration was then initiated and growth variables were evaluated after 6 and 12 months of therapy. Skeletal maturation was evaluated at the beginning as well as after 6 months and 12 months of hGH therapy. In the controls, HV (mean ± SD) had decreased from 8.8 ± 1.8 to 4.9 ± 1.4 cm/year during the pretreatment period (in girls from 7.9 ± 1.4 to 4.1 ± 0.6 cm/year and in boys from 9.6 ± 1.6 to 5.8 ± 1.2 cm/year). During the following semester, HV was 3.3 ± 0.8 cm/year (girls: 3.4 ± 1.0 and boys: 3.2 ± 0.2 cm/year). In the group of children treated with hGH, HV had decreased from 8.3 ± 1.3 to 5.3 ± 0.8 cm/year (from 7.5 ± 0.8 to 5.0 ± 0.2 cm/year in girls and from 8.9 ± 1.0 to 5.5 ± 0.8 cm/year in boys). During the first 6 months of hGH, HV was 7.7 ± 2.0 cm/year (7.5 ± 1.6 cm/year in girls and 7.8 ± 2.0 cm/year in boys). During the second 6-month period of treatment, a waning effect of GH was observed since HV decreased to 4.5 ± 1.4 cm/year (4.3 ± 1.4 cm/year in girls and 4.6 ± 1.5 cm/year in boys). We conclude that in this group of short normal children hGH (mean dose of 0.85 ± 0.30 IU/kg/week) increased HV after the peak of the pubertal growth spurt; complementary trials are indicated to determine if final adult height is enhanced when this therapy is administered during late puberty.

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