17 November 2004
Linear growth can be disturbed in paediatric adrenal disease associated with endocrine hypo- or hyperfunction. Tall stature is a feature in some patients with adrenocorticotropic hormone resistance syndromes and short stature is recognized in the IMAGe (intrauterine growth retardation, metaphyseal dysplasia, adrenal hypoplasia congenita and genital anomalies) association. In autoimmune Addison’s disease, growth is usually normal. In congenital adrenal hyperplasia, height may be compromised by advanced skeletal maturation or by suppressed growth, particularly in the neonatal period due to excess glucocorticoid treatment. In virilizing adrenal tumours, height is increased at diagnosis, but after surgical cure final height is usually in the normal range. In Cushing’s disease, height was abnormally short in 50% of patients at presentation. After successful treatment, spontaneous catch-up growth was not seen. This led to a diagnosis of growth hormone (GH) deficiency in 80% of patients. With GH replacement, catch-up growth and long-term benefit occurred. Disturbance of linear growth is an important feature of many patients with adrenal disorders in childhood. Assessment of its pathogenesis and careful management are necessary to ensure optimal final adult height.