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Robert Rapaport, Jan M Wit, and Martin O Savage

The terms idiopathic short stature (ISS) and small for gestational age (SGA) were first used in the 1970s and 1980s. ISS described non-syndromic short children with undefined aetiology who did not have growth hormone (GH) deficiency, chromosomal defects, chronic illness, dysmorphic features or low birth weight. Despite originating in the pre-molecular era, ISS is still used as a diagnostic label today. The term SGA was adopted by paediatric endocrinologists to describe children born with low birth weight and/or length, some of whom may experience lack of catch-up growth and present with short stature. GH treatment was approved by the FDA for short children born SGA in 2001, and by the EMA in 2003, and for the treatment of ISS in the US, but not Europe, in 2003. These approvals strengthened the terms SGA and ISS as clinical entities. While clinical and hormonal diagnostic techniques remain important, it is the emergence of genetic investigations that have led to numerous molecular discoveries in both ISS and SGA subjects. The primary message of this article is that the labels ISS and SGA are not definitive diagnoses. We propose that the three disciplines of clinical evaluation, hormonal investigation and genetic sequencing should have equal status in the hierarchy of short stature assessments and should complement each other to identify the true pathogenesis in poorly growing patients.

Open access

Robert Rapaport, Peter A Lee, Judith L Ross, Paul Saenger, Vlady Ostrow, and Giuseppe Piccoli

Growth hormone (GH) is used to treat short stature and growth failure associated with growth disorders. Birth size and GH status variably modulate response to GH therapy. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of birth size on response to GH therapy, and to determine the impact of GH status in patients born small for gestational age (SGA) on response to GH therapy. Data from the prospective, non-interventional American Norditropin Studies: Web-Enabled Research (ANSWER) Program was analyzed for several growth outcomes in response to GH therapy over 3 years. GH-naïve children from the ANSWER Program were included in this analysis: SGA with peak GH ≥10 ng/mL (20 mIU/L), SGA with peak GH <10 ng/mL (20 mIU/L), isolated growth hormone deficiency (IGHD) born SGA, IGHD not born SGA and idiopathic short stature. For patients with IGHD, those who did not meet criteria for SGA at birth showed greater improvements in height SDS and BMI SDS than patients with IGHD who met criteria for SGA at birth. For patients born SGA, response to GH therapy varied with GH status. Therefore, unlike previous guidelines, we recommend that GH status be established in patients born SGA to optimize GH therapy.