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Old 08-31-2006, 08:50 AM   #1
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Parents Treating Shortness In Their Kids As A Disease

I saw this last night on CNN and it made me have many questions. Some parents are injecting their kids with HGH because they are "too short" (almost exclusively boys apparently) and they are concerned with the consequences for them later on-in the business world and in relationships.

Sure seems like a slippery slope to me-and what about emphasizing other qualities? Is shortness really that much of a "handicap" for men, or is this all just reinforcing stereotypes? What about the possible long term effects of HGH, all of which might not even be known? What are parents going to do about their kids' other "shortcomings"?

Here's the transcript

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is Dustin Hoffman sick? Does Martin Scorsese have an illness? And is something ailing Robert Reich, President Clinton's secretary of labor?


COHEN: Well, shortness is now being treated as a disease -- tens of thousands of parents injecting their children every day, in the hope that they can make their kids taller. It often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars for one child.

(on camera): How old is Michael here?

JENNIFER REDA, SON TOOK GROWTH HORMONE: I think he was 3 there.

COHEN: And the little boy next to him?

J. REDA: Same exact age.

COHEN: What did kids say to you?

MICHAEL REDA, TOOK GROWTH HORMONE: They -- they told -- they called me small fry, shrimp, anything they could think of. And I -- I just hated that.

COHEN (voice-over): Michael's preschool teacher called him petite.

J. REDA: I was a little insulted. You know, it's a word you just don't want associated with your son.

COHEN (on camera): Why did you want to take something that would help?

M. REDA: Just to get taller, and, so, everyone would be nice to me, and all the bad stuff would go away.

COHEN (voice-over): When Michael Reda was 7, his parents started him on human growth hormone.

(on camera): So, you got a shot with that needle?

M. REDA: One once a day, yes.

COHEN: Once a day. Wow. Did it hurt?

M. REDA: I got used to it.

J. REDA: I thought he would be more challenged in the business world and even maybe in searching for a spouse.

COHEN: You think short men have a harder time?

J. REDA: I do. I just think we want to think of men as being a little bit larger and capable.

COHEN: So, when Michael first came to see you, he wasn't even on the chart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is right.

COHEN (voice-over): Dr. Fawad Ziay (ph) predicted Michael would grow up to be around 5'5''. After taking growth hormone for two-and- a-half years, Michael grew an extra three inches. Now, instead of being 5'5'' when he grows up, he will be around 5'8''.

(on camera): Did you grow as much as you hoped?

M. REDA: I grew -- I grew more than I hoped.

COHEN (voice-over): But bioethicists like Lori Andrews worry, is it right to use a drug to make your children look a certain way?

LORI ANDREWS, BIOETHICIST: This is part of a slippery slope of parents trying to design their children. And we're starting to see it even as very early stages.

COHEN: After all, Michael wasn't sick. He was just short.

ANDREWS: Nowhere else in medicine do we take healthy children and give them an injection of something that might cause them harm.

COHEN: The vast majority of children do just fine on growth hormone, but some do suffer scoliosis, muscle pains, and headaches.

J. REDA: We entered into it very cautiously. There was a lot of thought process and decision-making prior to giving it to him.

COHEN: Growth hormone isn't cheap. How expensive is it? One inch Of growth costs more than $50,000. Want your child to grow four inches? That will be $200,000, please. And the results are not guaranteed. Insurance paid for Michael's growth hormone. And the Redas couldn't be more pleased with the results.

(on camera): What do you think those three inches have done for him?

J. REDA: I know they have made him a lot happier.

ANDREWS: If the idea is to give your child self-esteem, you should be doing that through parenting, not through drugs.

COHEN (voice-over): That's nonsense, according to Steve Horowitz. At 5'3'', he says he suffers every day because of his height.

STEVE HOROWITZ, FINANCIAL ADVISER: I'm a financial adviser. I see people for a living. People judge you by your -- your height. I would still give anything to put on a couple inches, even at this stage of the game. I would have done anything, and I would still do anything.

COHEN: This drug wasn't around when Steve was a kid, but he did put his son Ira (ph) on it. Ten years of daily injections, and now Ira is 5'9'', and Steve is thrilled his son doesn't have to go through life a very short man.

HOROWITZ: It is an extra hurdle to overcome. And why overcome that hurdle, if you don't have to, if you can have it removed?

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: And one more thing: Worldwide sales of human growth hormone are now close to $2 billion a year. But doctors warn, some human growth hormone is being used for anti-aging treatments, without government approval.
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Old 08-31-2006, 09:06 AM   #2
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Re: Parents Treating Shortness In Their Kids As A Disease

Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
COHEN (voice-over): That's nonsense, according to Steve Horowitz. At 5'3'', he says he suffers every day because of his height.

STEVE HOROWITZ, FINANCIAL ADVISER: I'm a financial adviser. I see people for a living. People judge you by your -- your height. I would still give anything to put on a couple inches, even at this stage of the game. I would have done anything, and I would still do anything.
Like it or not, this statement is quite true.

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Old 08-31-2006, 09:14 AM   #3
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When I was about seven or eight years old, I was offerered the chance to be one of the first people in the world to trial growth hormones.

Twice daily injections for my entire childhood would have left me about two or three inches taller than the height I am now..

In the end, after a lot of tests, my parents decided not to give me the hormones..

A few years later, many of the children who took part in the trials developed the fatal CJD disease from contaminated hormones.

As an adult I'm short. Ok it would be nice to be taller, but I don't lose any sleep over it. - I am who I am.
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Old 08-31-2006, 09:17 AM   #4
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But people also judge you by so many other physical factors-the main ethical question being, should parents be using medical intervention ( including drugs) in order to prevent or change any or all of those physical factors? Where does it end?

What about developing other important qualities as a human being? Especially in men, why do we reduce their stature and masculinity and self worth to height? What about the other factors in self esteem and what parents are supposed to do to develop those? I'm certainly not denying that the physical factors play a large role in society, especially for kids. But there will still be many issues for these kids even when their height is no longer an issue. Are they going to be able to take injections for those?

When I was a kid I was made fun of for being tall and skinny-should my parents have tried to stunt my growth and make me gain weight?
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Old 08-31-2006, 09:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ellay
When I was about seven or eight years old, I was offerered the chance to be one of the first people in the world to trial growth hormones.

Twice daily injections for my entire childhood would have left me about two or three inches taller than the height I am now..

In the end, after a lot of tests, my parents decided not to give me the hormones..

A few years later, many of the children who took part in the trials developed the fatal CJD disease from contaminated hormones.

As an adult I'm short. Ok it would be nice to be taller, but I don't lose any sleep over it. - I am who I am.
That's interesting, thanks for sharing

What's the CJD disease?
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Old 08-31-2006, 10:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen


That's interesting, thanks for sharing

What's the CJD disease?

CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)

It's a disease which attacks the brain, and it's fatal.

There are four different types - sporadic (developed in old age) / variant (made popularly known by the BSE beef scare) Genetic (self explanatory) and latrogenic (the disease is sparked by something - ie growth hormones)
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Old 08-31-2006, 10:19 AM   #7
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I'm 39 years old, and 5 ft. 4. I stopped being judged for my height when I was in high school. It has had no bearing on my life since then, except maybe lost me a few potential dates, but I don't even know that; it's just conjecture.
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Old 08-31-2006, 10:36 AM   #8
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I'm 5'2" and get teased about my size a lot, sometimes it bugs me sometimes it doesn't, depends on the context.


Actually now when I think about it it gets on my nerves when people associate being short with being weak. I hate it when people think I'm weak, because I know I'm not.
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Old 08-31-2006, 10:57 AM   #9
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The average Roman was 5 foot 3 and they managed to conquer most of Europe and North Africa.

(admittedly their entire empire collapsed, but hey ho, that's history for you)
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Old 08-31-2006, 11:27 AM   #10
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I am 5 feet tall with my heals on and, at least since that awkward middle school/high school state, I have always loved it, as a lot of men think its cute. I do think it's much easier on women than men, though. One of the many ways that patriarchy harms men, interestingly.

I have been aware of being "judged" by my height in contexts like job interviews but I think learning to project competence and confidence is a much better way to handle that than meds.

I feel terrible for the kids here. These interventions seem to be a lot more about the insecurities of the parents than inadequcies of the kids.
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Old 08-31-2006, 11:37 AM   #11
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Scott Hamilton is 5'3" and he won the Olympic gold medal. He's been successful in everything he's done. It shouldn't be treated as a disease because it's not.
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Old 08-31-2006, 11:45 AM   #12
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Originally posted by verte76
Scott Hamilton is 5'3" and he won the Olympic gold medal. He's been successful in everything he's done. It shouldn't be treated as a disease because it's not.

The problem is that the disease is psychological rather than physical, and that the psychological problem rests with society rather than the individual.

I have no problem being short, but without doubt people judge me because I am..

Some parents would rather not have their children face this psychological barrier, and I can understand why they'd choose an option where they won't have to.
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Old 08-31-2006, 11:52 AM   #13
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^^ Well that's pretty much what I was just thinking...
Quote:
JENNIFER REDA, SON TOOK GROWTH HORMONE: I thought he would be more challenged in the business world and even maybe in searching for a spouse...I just think we want to think of men as being a little bit larger and capable.

STEVE HOROWITZ, FINANCIAL ADVISER: I'm a financial adviser. I see people for a living. People judge you by your -- your height.
So...are these folks simply displaying (or I guess in the mother's case, projecting) their own insecurities here, and imagining obstacles that don't meaningfully exist? Or is it really true that in the case of some careers (and in the case of attracting some women--or perhaps some men too?) taller men just are more likely to be perceived as appealingly "capable"? Clearly, equating capability with tallness goes beyond mere ideas of what's physically attractive--you're treating a purely physical quality as a proxy for an abstract aptitude, which really makes no sense (though I suppose a sociobiologist might beg to differ).
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Old 08-31-2006, 11:56 AM   #14
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I was offered growth hormones as a kid by my doctor but my parents said no.

My "best friend" in 5th grade told everyone I had the same disease as Gary Coleman, so that was the rumor for quite awhile.

I finally hit a growth spurt like my junior year in high school and I would say I'm close to average maybe a little shy of that, but my family is very tall.
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Old 08-31-2006, 12:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
^^ Well that's pretty much what I was just thinking...

So...are these folks simply displaying (or I guess in the mother's case, projecting) their own insecurities here, and imagining obstacles that don't meaningfully exist? Or is it really true that in the case of some careers (and in the case of attracting some women--or perhaps some men too?) taller men just are more likely to be perceived as appealingly "capable"? Clearly, equating capability with tallness goes beyond mere ideas of what's physically attractive--you're treating a purely physical quality as a proxy for an abstract aptitude, which really makes no sense (though I suppose a sociobiologist might beg to differ).

Agreed, it makes no sense at all, but the obstacle certainly exists because society has created it.

So it's not really parents dealing with imagined insecurities, it's parents dealing with a fact of life. - whether that's morally correct or not is another matter.

Different societies create different perceptions.

A big nose in Western Culture would be generally regarded as unattractive, but in japanese / far eastern culture (so Im led to believe) one would be regarded as a status symbol.
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