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Wednesday
Sep292010

Solving Short: Genes, HGH and Surgery to Change Height

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Though height is genetically predetermined, scientists still don't fully understand how our genes control growth.  According to recent research published Wednesday in the journal Nature, genes can still be identified for only 10 percent of the variation in human height.  Furthermore, surgical manipulation of the skeleton is the only way to boost height in adults, but endocrinologists have other ways of addressing height deficiencies in children, notes Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, a lead author on the recent Nature study and a paediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital of Boston.

The recent research, which drew on the genomes of more than 180,000 individuals, identified a hundred additional locations where changes in the genetic code could lead to differences in height. At this point in time, children who are identified as having a growth problem are most often treated with medicines containing human growth hormone. Once the natural growing process is complete, human growth hormone cannot be used and surgery becomes the only option. With intense pain, months of grueling recovery and physical therapy, and the risk of complications and decreased function, this option is truly only for those determined to be taller.

The increasing popularity in cosmetic lengthening, and its hefty price tag, has spawned many less-than-qualified surgical centers throughout the world that can often leave patients much worse off than when they started, warns Dr. Dror Paley, an expert in limb lengthening and reconstruction at St. Mary's Medical Center.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


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