Traumatic brain injury induced hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction: a paediatric perspective
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- Acerini, C.L. & Tasker, R.C. Pituitary (2007) 10: 373. doi:10.1007/s11102-007-0052-8
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In survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI), impairment in anterior pituitary hormone function may be an important cause of long-term morbidity. Histopathological evidence from post-mortem studies suggests that the hypothalamic-pituitary structures are vulnerable to damage following head injury. Pituitary dysfunction, present months or years after injury, is now well recognised in adults, however, little evidence is known about this potential complication in children and adolescents. This article reviews the available paediatric data, which shows that hypopituitarism may occur after both mild and severe TBI, with growth hormone and gonadotrophin deficiencies appearing to be most common abnormalities. Central precocious puberty has also been documented. There are, however, few published data within a population of children with TBI on the incidence or prevalence of hypopituitarism, nor on its natural history or response to hormone replacement, and prospective studies are needed. Given the critical role of anterior pituitary hormones in the regulation of growth, pubertal and neurocognitive development in childhood, early detection of hormone abnormalities following TBI is important. We propose that a multidisciplinary approach to follow-up and endocrine assessment is required for the long-term management and rehabilitation of children and adolescents who survive moderate to severe head injury.