Should Short KidsTake Growth Hormones?

Many people wish they could be taller. Spencer Davies is one of them.

"They just called me names like 'shrimp' and stuff, constantly, and they followed me all around," Spencer, 11, told Saturday Early Show co-anchor Tracy Smith. "It was really disturbing. I just wanted to run away."

Spencer has a modest goal when it comes to his height. All he wants is to be taller than his father, who is 5'2"

"He fell off the charts and was all of a sudden three inches, four inches shorter than I was at his age," said Bret Davies, Spencer's father.

Spencer's height was barely creeping higher.

"You have other people saying, 'oh he's so cute. Is he 2? He speaks really well,'" his mother Laurie said. "He was like 5 1/2, and they thought he was 2."

Between the ages of 2 and 4, Spencer was not able to keep up with the normal growth rate.

After two years of tracking Spencer's height, his pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. David Allen made a suggestion. He recommended Spencer take human growth hormone in the hopes of accelerating his growth. It takes years of daily injections, which Spencer seems to have gotten used to, and in the end there are no guarantees.

"Most of the time, people have excessive expectations for growth, for what growth hormone is going to do," Allen said. "They think it can make a short child tall and that doesn't happen."

He said the best a patient can hope for is growing up to three inches.

When thinking about height, it helps to look at the bell curve. At one end you have very, very tall, people like 7'6" NBA star Yao Ming. At the other end of the curve are the very short, like former labor secretary Robert Reich who stands about 4'10". Most of the rest of us fall somewhere in between. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of human growth hormone to treat children projected to fall below the first percentile of that bell curve.

Ellen Frankel is 4'10" and is the author of the book "Beyond Measure." She says we ought to be trying to change people's minds instead of their bodies.

"Do we treat a social prejudice with a social solution, or are we going to treat it with a medical solution?" she asked.

Frankel says the medical solution, which adds only a couple of inches, isn't really a solution at all.

"We just need to step back a minute and think what is it that can be done differently if we're two inches taller?" she said.

The Davies say it's not necessarily what Spencer can do, but how he feels about himself. His growth rate has doubled, and while doctors can't predict whether he'll be taller than his dad he's caught up to some of his peers.

As far as the name-calling and teasing?

"That stopped a long time ago," Spencer said.