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Q&A : ADVICE FROM EXPERTS HORMONES OFFER HOPE TO THOSE WITH TURNER'S SYNDROME.

If you haven't heard of Turner's syndrome, you're not alone. The rare chromosomal deficiency affects one in 2,500 females. An estimated 50,000 to 75,000 girls and women in the United States have the condition.

In December, people battling the syndrome gained a powerful weapon against the ailment - growth hormones. The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of growth hormones for girls who have the ailment and are short, a common symptom of the syndrome.

Lynn-Georgia Tesch, executive director of the Turner's Syndrome Society in Minneapolis, Minn.; and Dr. Norman Lavin, a Tarzana-based pediatrician and pediatric endocrinologist and a professor of pediatrics and endocrinology at UCLA, provided the following information.

For more data, including details on support groups, call the society at (800) 365-9944 or visit their Web site at http://www.turner-syndrome-us.org/tsslocal.htm.

What is Turner's syndrome?

It's an chromosomal abnormality that only affects girls and women. It's caused by the complete or partial absence of one of the two X chromosomes normally found in females. The syndrome is named after Dr. Henry Turner, an American endocrinologist who first identified the ailment's characteristics in 1938.

How do I know if I have Turner's syndrome?

The syndrome can be detected through a blood test called a karyotype.

Short stature, generally less than 5 feet, is the most visible sign. A typical grown woman with the syndrome is about 4 feet 8 inches tall.

Most women with the syndrome also experience ovarian failure, which results in infertility and incomplete sexual development. Because most syndrome sufferers are infertile, the ailment is not hereditary.

Also, although the syndrome doesn't impact general intelligence, syndrome sufferers can have poor spatial abilities, so mastering geometry or learning to drive can be challenging.

Why does Turner's syndrome target girls and women?

Although research continues, it's unclear. It's a genetic accident that happens.

What treatments or cures are available?

There's no cure, but hormone replacement treatments are available to help in developing secondary sexual characteristics, such as the sex organs. The recently approved use of growth hormones to treat Turner's syndrome also can help a girl with the syndrome grow an additional 2 to 3 inches taller after several years of daily growth-hormone shots. This treatment only is available for girls whose bones still are growing.

Do growth-hormone treatments include any side effects?

No major side effects have been reported. However, abuse and excessive use of growth hormones can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 31, 1997
Words:412
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