Increasing awareness about growth disorders in children

This week, the House of Representatives has the opportunity to support an effort to increase awareness of growth disorders, as well as the critical importance of early diagnosis and treatment. During National Growth Awareness Week, House Resolution 313 is a bipartisan effort to put a national spotlight on the need for better education about proper growth patterns in our children.

Children fail to grow for a number of reason – so many, in fact, that POSSUM (Pictures of Standard Syndromes and Undiagnosed Malformations), a national database developed to aid in diagnosis of these disorders – contains examples of over 600 different serious disease states and conditions that may result in abnormal growth patterns or growth failure.
A deficiency in growth hormone (GH) is just one possible cause of growth failure. GH deficiency occurs when the pituitary gland fails to respond to appropriate neurohumoral signals of the body, and too little GH is released into the bloodstream. Without GH, growth simply does not occur.

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But the list of causes of growth failure can seem endless, and include chronic renal insufficiency, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Cushing syndrome, insulin-like growth factor deficiency, tumors, Russell Silver Syndrome, achondroplasia and thyroid disorders. Although many of these conditions are treatable if they are diagnosed early, the varied etiologies of these disease states can mean an extensive and exhausting diagnosis process for physicians and families alike. The frustration is often compounded within families affected by growth disorders and growth failure, as parents are unable to find useful information with which to educate themselves – and sometimes their health care providers – about their child’s needs.

The MAGIC Foundation (Major Aspects of Growth In Children) was founded by motivated parents challenged by their children’s growth-related diagnosis. Faced with a difficult time in their child’s development, these parents banded together and formed a community based on support and education. It has been an honor to work with such a dedicated organization, which has grown from a small network of similarly affected families into a national community, providing resources to those impacted by the emotional and physical trauma that often accompanies growth disorders.

The MAGIC Foundation’s motto, “Children have a short time to grow and a lifetime to live with the results” is a call to action. According to MAGIC, 48 percent of children in the United States evaluated with the two most common forms of growth failure have gone undiagnosed. Let’s kick-start a national conversation about growth conditions and their effect on children – as well as families – so that more children are able to avoid the serious consequences of undiagnosed and untreated disease, and are able to live healthier lives. This week, we ask our colleagues to support the important causes championed by the MAGIC Foundation by voting for H. Res 313.

Cassidy has represented Louisiana's 6th Congressional District since 2009. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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