Recombinant growth hormone for children and adolescents with Turner syndrome

Turner syndrome (TS) is a genetic disorder affecting the sexual development and appearance of girls and women. Women with TS are much shorter than other women (by about 21 cm or eight inches). To try to overcome slow growth, recombinant growth hormone (hGH) has been given. The hormone is injected under the skin several times a week until final adult height is achieved. The review found some evidence that hGH does increase short-term growth in girls with TS and adult height (an increase of perhaps five centimeters or two inches). However, girls treated with hGH are still substantially shorter than other women as adults. Final height in 61 treated women was 148 cm and 141 cm in 43 untreated women.

Authors' conclusions: 

Recombinant human growth hormone (hGH) doses between 0.3 to 0.375 mg/kg/wk increase short-term growth in girls with Turner syndrome by approximately three (two) cm in the first (second) year of treatment. Treatment in one trial increased final height by approximately six cm over an untreated control group. Despite this increase, the final height of treated women was still outside the normal range. Additional trials of the effects of hGH carried out with control groups until final height is achieved would allow better informed decisions about whether the benefits of hGH treatment outweigh the requirement of treatment over several years at considerable cost.

Read the full abstract...

Turner syndrome (TS) affects about one in 1500 to 2500 live-born females. One of the most prevalent and salient features of the syndrome is extremely short stature. Untreated women are approximately 20 to 21 cm shorter than normal women within their respective populations. Recombinant human growth hormone (hGH) has been used to increase growth and final height in girls who have Turner syndrome.


To assess the effects of recombinant growth hormone in children and adolescents with TS.

Search strategy: 

MEDLINE, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, LILACS, BIOSIS, Science Citation Index and reference lists were used to identify relevant trials.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials were included if they were carried out in children with TS before achieving final height. Growth hormone had to be administered for a minimum of six months and compared with a placebo or no treatment control condition.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two reviewers assessed studies for inclusion criteria and for methodological quality. The primary outcomes were final height and growth. Secondary outcomes included bone age, quality of life, cognitive performance, and adverse effects.

Main results: 

Four RCTs that included 365 participants after one year of treatment were included. Only one trial reported final height in 61 treated women to be 148 cm and 141 cm in 43 untreated women (mean difference (MD) seven cm, 95% CI 6 to 8). Short-term growth velocity was greater in treated than untreated girls after one year (two trials, MD three cm per year, 95% CI 2 to 4) and after two years (one trial, MD two cm per year, 95% CI 1 to 2.3). Skeletal maturity was not accelerated by treatment with recombinant growth hormone (hGH). Adverse effects were minimally reported.