European journal of endocrinology / European Federation of Endocrine Societies vol:151 issue:1 pages:67-72
OBJECTIVE: Since the availability of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) all children with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) living in Belgium are offered rhGH treatment after approval by a peer-review board. In this study, we evaluated the prevalence and demographic features of childhood GHD in Belgium during the period 1986-2001 and we compared them with the data from other countries. METHODS: Diagnostic, demographic and baseline auxological data of 714 children diagnosed as having GHD between 1986 and 2001 were retrieved from the database of the Belgian Study Group for Paediatric Endocrinology. RESULTS: The prevalence of GHD in Belgium was estimated to be 1/5600. The origin of GHD was idiopathic (idGHD) in 41% of the patients, congenital (congGHD) in 20% and acquired (acqGHD) in 35%. During the first 4 years (1986-1989) more patients were classified as idGHD; thereafter the distribution between the three aetiology groups did not change. In all groups, boys outnumbered girls but this preponderance was especially pronounced in congGHD patients (male:female=4:1) with a central malformation that associates an anterior pituitary hypoplasia, a missing, fine or normal pituitary stalk and an ectopic posterior pituitary. Thirteen percent of the patients with idGHD, 50% with congGHD and 52% with acqGHD had multiple pituitary deficiencies. Patients with congGHD were the youngest (mean+/-s.d. age: 6.5+/-4.7 years) and were the shortest (-3.0+/-1.3 standard deviation score (SDS)) at the start of rhGH treatment. There was no time trend over the studied period for age and height at onset of GH therapy. CONCLUSION: In Belgium, the prevalence of childhood GHD can be estimated as 1/5600 which is comparable to other recent surveys. The yearly number of new patients for the different aetiologies and the auxological parameters have remained relatively constant over the last 16 years.