CONTEXT: Use of growth hormone (GH) therapy to promote growth in short children born small for gestational age (SGA) was recently approved in the United States and Europe, but there is still disagreement about the magnitude of effectiveness of GH.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of GH therapy on adult height in short SGA children by a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials (RCTs).

METHODS: We performed a systematic review of controlled studies using as data sources the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, and the bibliographic references from all retrieved articles describing RCTs up to November 2008. A meta-analysis of all RCT studies conducted up to the achievement of adult height was performed. Inclusion criteria were birth weight and/or length below −2 SD score (SDS), initial height less than −2 SDS, and GH dose range of 33 to 67 μg/kg per day. Adult height SDS and overall height gain SDS were the primary outcome measures.

RESULTS: Four RCTs (391 children) met the inclusion criteria. The adult height of the GH-treated group significantly exceeded controls by 0.9 SDS. Mean height gain was 1.5 SDS in treated versus 0.25 SDS in untreated SGA subjects. No significant difference in adult height was observed between the 2 GH dose regimens.

CONCLUSIONS: GH therapy seems to be an effective approach to partially reduce the adult height deficit in short SGA children. However, the response to therapy is highly variable, and additional studies are needed to identify the responders.

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