Clinical Trial
Comparative Study
Journal Article
Multicenter Study
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Impact of long-term iron chelation therapy on growth and endocrine functions in thalassaemia.

A large number of children treated from the time of diagnosis with modern transfusion and chelation therapy are now entering early adolescence or early adulthood, and only now can we evaluate how many complications, secondary to iron overload, can be prevented by daily s.c. desferrioxamine (DFX) therapy. In 1989, we planned a multi-centre study on growth and endocrine complications in patients who started chelation therapy with DFX early in life. Height, weight, endocrine complications, haematological variables and compliance with DFX were evaluated in a study group of 238 patients aged 2-17 years with beta-thalassaemia major regularly followed in 13 paediatric and haematological Italian centres. The LMS method by Cole and Green and the Mann-Whitney test were applied for statistical analysis. Twenty-six patients with thalassaemia (12.4%) had growth hormone insufficiency, five patients (2.1%) had primary hypothyroidism and four patients (1.7%) had hypoparathyroidism. Delayed puberty was present in 18.4% of boys and 17.7% of girls. At the beginning of chelation, standing height was in the normal range when compared to Swiss standards, while in the following years a progressive decline of growth was observed in both sexes. In conclusion, our study noted a positive effect of DFX therapy on sexual maturation and endocrine complications. Nevertheless, short stature has persisted despite major advances in treatment.

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