Skip to Content

Research News at Vanderbilt

Growth hormone for Prader-Willi

by Yan Su

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a rare genetic disease characterized by intellectual deficits, compulsivity, hyperphagia, obesity, growth hormone deficiencies and short stature.

Growth hormone treatment (GHT) has been shown to significantly improve linear growth and body composition in people with PWS. However, few studies have assessed the cognitive and behavioral benefits of GHT in this population.

To address this problem, Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Elizabeth Roof, M.A., and Hailee Hunt-Hawkins conducted a large, well-controlled cohort study in 173 children and youth with genetically confirmed PWS aged 4 to 21 years.

Children who had received GHT had significantly higher verbal and composite IQ and adaptive communication and daily living skills than those who had not, the researchers reported this month in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Cognitive advantages should be an additional justification for GHT in people with PWS, they concluded. Education is also needed, as treatment naïve children were more likely to have less well-educated parents with lower annual incomes.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (HD035681, HD015052, TR000044).

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to aliquots@vanderbilt.edu