The prescription of growth hormone therapy for children who are not growth hormone deficient is one of the controversies in contemporary paediatric endocrinology. Is it morally appropriate to enhance the growth, by means of medical treatment, of a child wish idiopathic short stature? The medical, moral, and philosophical questions in this area are many. Data on the effects of human growth hormone (hGH) treatment will not on their own provide us with answers, as these effects have to be evaluated from a normative perspective. In this article we consider hGH treatment for children of idiopathic short stature from three normative perspectives: the goals of medicine, the good of the patient, and the public good. We argue that the prevention of psychological and social problems due to short stature (and not merely the enhancement of growth) should be the ultimate goal of medical treatment and research.
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