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Pituitary dysfunction after traumatic brain injury: are there definitive data in children?

Abstract

In the past decade, several studies in adults and children have described the risk of pituitary dysfunction after traumatic brain injury (TBI). As a result, an international consensus statement recommended follow-up on the survivors. This paper reviews published studies regarding hypopituitarism after TBI in children and compares their results. The prevalence of hypopituitarism ranges from 5% to 57%. Growth hormone (GH) and ACTH deficiency are the most common, followed by gonadotropins and thyroid-stimulating hormone. Paediatric studies have failed to identify risk factors for developing hypopituitarism, and therefore we have no tools to restrict screening in severe TBI. In addition, the present review highlights the lack of a unified follow-up and the fact that unrecognised pituitary dysfunction is frequent in paediatric population. The effect of hormonal replacement in patient recovery is important enough to consider baseline screening and reassessment between 6 and 12 months after TBI. Medical community should be aware of the risk of pituitary dysfunction in these patients, given the high prevalence of endocrine dysfunction already reported in the studies. Longer prospective studies are needed to uncover the natural course of pituitary dysfunction, and new studies should be designed to test the benefit of hormonal replacement in metabolic, cognitive and functional outcome in these patients.

  • pituitary dysfunction
  • hypopituitarism
  • traumatic brain injury
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