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Hypopituitarism

Hypopituitarism is defined as the underactivity of the pituitary gland, resulting in inadequate hormone production. The development of the pituitary gland, found at the base of the brain, can be affected by optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH). The pituitary gland is the body’s master control gland; it makes and directs important hormones required for growth, energy control and sexual development. The lack of these hormones can cause problems for children who are missing them.

Children need growth hormone to grow normally, control their metabolism, grow and maintain strong bones and muscles. The thyroid hormone contributes to the bodies’ ability to grow normally and helps control the bodies’ metabolism (ability to make energy). The pituitary gland also signals the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol is needed in times of physical and emotional stress. The pituitary gland produces ACTH, which signals the adrenal gland to produce cortisol in time of stress (such as surgery, illness, dehydration). In addition, problems can occur with development of sex hormones, control of blood sugar, and control of salt balance or urine production.

Diagnosis
An endocrinologist will run tests to confirm decreased hormone levels due to an abnormality of the pituitary gland.

Treatment
Specific treatment depends on the age and sex of the patient, the severity of the deficiency and the underlying cause of the hypopituitarism. Hormone replacement is generally employed to replace the deficient hormone or hormones.