Childhood treatment with human growth hormone is strongly associated with an increased risk for stroke in early adulthood, a new study has found.
The study adds evidence to previous reports suggesting an increased cardiac and cerebrovascular risk in children treated with growth hormone.
Researchers studied 6,874 children, average age 11, who were small for their age but otherwise generally healthy and were treated with growth hormone from 1985 to 1996. They followed them to an average age of 28.
There were 11 strokes in the group, four of them fatal. The analysis found that this was more than twice as many strokes as would be expected in a population this size, a statistically significant difference. The results, published online in the journal Neurology,were particularly striking for hemorrhagic stroke, the type caused by a ruptured blood vessel — there were more than seven times as many as would be expected.
The authors acknowledged that they were unable to take into account some risk factors for stroke, such as family history and smoking.
“Subjects on growth hormones should not panic on reading these results,” said the senior author, Dr. Joël Coste, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the Hôtel Dieu hospital in Paris. “The doctor prescribing the hormone or the family doctor should be consulted and will be able to inform and advise patients.”