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Beyond the bias! Sex distribution in paediatric growth hormone deficiency reexamined.

OBJECTIVES: Various biases pertaining to stature account for a male sex predominance in growth hormone deficiency (GHD) cases diagnosed by endocrinology clinics. This manuscript will assess the sex distribution when biases are minimised.

METHODS: Retrospective chart review was conducted on patients diagnosed with GHD between 3 and 16 years of age. The sex distribution of cases was ascertained according to: (1) peak GH (pGH) by groups; based on growth hormone provocative testing, (2) pituitary gland imaging results, and (3) isolated GHD (IGHD) versus multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies (MPHD). The relative frequency of each sex was compared according to these subgroups with significance evaluated at α = .05 level.

RESULTS: Of the 5880 clinic referrals for short stature, there were 3709 boys (63%) and 2171 girls (37%). Of these, 20% of boys (n = 745) and 15.3% of girls (n = 332) underwent provocative testing for GHD. Of those tested, 39.2% of boys (n = 292) and 32.2% of girls (n = 107) were diagnosed with GHD, all p < .001. There was a male predominance in GHD cases based on pGH or GHD severity. Though not significant, girls were more likely than boys to have MPHD (p = .056), even across pGH groups (p = .06). Both boys and girls had a similar distribution of imaging abnormalities.

CONCLUSION: Stratifying by sex, we found similar percentages of pituitary imaging abnormalities (including tumours) and the number of pituitary hormone deficiencies in boys and girls as the cause of GHD. For these classifications, we did not find the historically reported male sex predominance.

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