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Endocrinology and Diabetes

Growth, pituitary and pubertal disorders

  • What are growth, pituitary and pubertal disorders?

    The pituitary gland is a small, pea-sized gland located in the centre of the brain between and behind the eyes. It is sometimes called the “master gland” because it also controls the release of hormones from other glands. The hormones produced or controlled by the pituitary gland regulate such important functions as growth, puberty, metabolism, and the body’s response to stress.

    The pituitary gland is made of the anterior and posterior lobes.

    The anterior lobe produces:

    • Growth hormone - regulates growth, metabolism, and body composition (bone and muscle mass and fat distribution)
    • Gonadotrophins (follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone) - regulates the functioning of the ovaries and testes  
    • Prolactin - stimulates the production of breast milk during pregnancy and after birth
    • Adrenocorticotropic hormone - stimulates the adrenal gland to produce hormones that regulate metabolism and the body’s response to stress
    • Thyroid-stimulating hormone - stimulates the thyroid gland to produce hormones that control important metabolic functions

     The posterior produces:

    • Anti-diuretic hormone – allows the kidneys to absorb more water into the blood
    • Oxytocin - stimulates the uterus contraction during childbirth and production of breast milk.

     Common growth, pituitary and pubertal disorders include:


    • Constitutional delay in growth and puberty
    • Familial short stature
    • Growth hormone deficiency
    • Poor growth secondary to chronic illnesses


    • Multiple pituitary hormone deficiency (also known as hypopituitarism)
    • Underdeveloped pituitary gland
    • Pituitary adenoma, tumour or cyst
    • Surgery and radiation treatment


    • Constitutional delay in growth and puberty
    • Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (e.g. Kallman syndrome)
    • Hypergonadotropic hypogonadism (e.g. Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome)

    For health professionals

    For general management of a child with poor growth, please refer to the RCH Clinical Practice Guideline on Poor Growth.

    For general management of diabetes insipidus, please refer to the RCH Clinical Practice Guideline on Diabetes Insipidus.

    Growth resources

    PBS Growth hormone guidelines

    Growth hormone program: Human Services and PBS 

    Australian Paediatric Endocrine Group - Growth resources 

    Anthropometric calculators


    For patients and families



    APEG Patient Information Statement: Growth Hormone treatment in children and adolescents (APEG 2018)

    Hormone and me booklets:

    Growth Problems in Children

    Growth hormone deficiency in adults

    Intrauterine growth retardation



    Hormone and me booklets:

    Multiple Pituitary Hormone Deficiency (MPHD)

    Diabetes insipidus



    Hormone and me booklets:

    Puberty and Its Problems

    Delayed puberty