HGH use among teens on the rise - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

HGH use among teens on the rise

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A warning for parents. 

A new study shows a spike in the number of teens who admit to using human growth hormones as a performance enhancing drug.

HGH use has gained popularity among professional athletes, especially in the NFL.

Now, high school athletes are using it to get an edge on the field.

More than ten percent of high school students admit to trying human growth hormones, or other supplements that claim to boost their HGH levels.

But there are many positives if human growth hormones are used for their intended purposes. 

Dr. Mary Lauren Scott is a pediatric endocrinologist with Children's of Alabama.

"In those patients, (HGH) does great things. (The patients) are able to be a normal height so that they feel more socially acceptable with their family."

Scott says HGH is medically administered to help children whose growth rate is significantly slower. 

"For some kids, it helps them get over five feet (tall). It helps them be able to drive, they don't need assisted devices in a car. It's a real, real wonder for those patients and the parents see those benefits as their child grows," says Scott.

Unfortunately, Scott knows more teens are abusing HGH to improve on the field. 

"It's not going to make them all of a sudden a super star athlete. But, it does get lumped in with a lot of those medications that are potentially abused by people looking to seek extraordinary athletic ability."

Human growth hormones are only available by prescription. They're given by injection. And for those who use these hormones, but don't need them, several medical risks come into play.

"If that's the case, and they're getting medical grade hormones, there could be side effects that could be detrimental to their health, including advancing their bone age, which would mean closing their growth plates sooner than necessary."

That's not all.

"It could mean high blood pressure, it could mean insulin resistance or risk for diabetes. It could even mean potential dilated cardio-myopathy or heart issues from it," says Scott.

It's difficult for teens to get their hands on medical grade human growth hormones. So, some look to other growth supplements. Many of which can be bought over the counter and taken orally. 

"Human growth hormones can not be taken orally, so if you're buying an actual oral growth hormone from a supplement store, your stomach degrades it before it's able to be functional."

Scott even points out, HGH isn't even a proven performance enhancer.

She says several studies show HGH may not have the intended effects for those looking to become bigger, stronger and faster. 

"In all honesty, compared to a placebo, these patients in the end were not bigger, stronger or more capable than other patients that were receiving saline injections. It actually may make the muscles look bigger, but some of that is water weight."

 Ultimately.

 "Every child is different. Every child grows in their own time. It doesn't mean that they're unhealthy or that they have a problem. We see a lot of children that are late bloomers. Who have this unnecessary pressure placed on them to be the biggest and the strongest and the tallest in their class when maybe that's not what they're meant to do."



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