The effect of short-term growth hormone treatment on growth and energy expenditure in burned children

J. F. Aili Low, Robert E. Barrow, Bettina Mittendorfer, Marc G. Jeschke, David L. Chinkes, David N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Delays in growth are commonly observed in children who have sustained a severe cutaneous burn. The reasons for this growth delay are not completely known, but in adults, plasma growth hormone (GH) levels have been shown to decrease after thermal injury. If this is also the case in severely burned children, the low GH levels may contribute to their chronic growth delay. We propose that treatment with rhGH may prevent this burn-induced growth delay. Height velocities were measured for up to 2 years after injury in 38 burned children (age 7±1 years) with a 64±2% total burn surface area (TBSA) burn and a 59±3% third-degree burn who received 0.2 mg/kg/day rhGH during hospitalization. These height velocities were compared to 41 burned children (age 8±1 years) with a 64±3% TBSA burn and a 60±3% TBSA third-degree burn who were treated similarly but did not receive rhGH. Height velocities and height percentiles were compared to standard height velocity and percentile nomograms of unburned children. To determine the effect of rhGH on energy requirements, resting energy expenditures (REE) were measured by indirect calorimetry and compared to values calculated from the Harris-Benedict equation. All data are presented as mean±S.E.M. No differences in average height percentile could be shown between those receiving GH and controls at admission and 6 months after burn. There was, however, a significant difference (P<0.05) in height velocity during the first 2 years after burn between GH (47th±6 percentile) and controls (32nd±5 percentile). For rhGH-treated children, the REE was elevated by 34±4% versus 35±5% for controls. Recombinant human GH, given during acute hospitalization, maintained growth in severely burned children who would otherwise experience a significant growth delay. Treatment with rhGH did not atttenuate their elevated REE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-452
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Energy expenditure
  • Growth delay
  • Growth hormone
  • Pediatric burns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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