The Show

Parents' Biggest Fears

If you could customize your perfect child, would you? What about choosing your child’s sex, eye color, height or IQ? Plus, a deserving family with a sick child gets a house call from Dr. Phil and his wife, Robin.

A Tall Order




Ellen joins Dr. Phil, along with Carrie, a mother who currently gives her son human growth hormone, pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears from the hit show The Doctors and Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Dr. Phil asks his guests, "Is there a point at which medicine kind of outstrips morality or outstrips common sense?"

Ellen says, "We need to change the prejudice, the last acceptable discrimination, rather than trying to change the physical characteristics of the person themselves."

Dr. Phil turns to Carrie. "You feel differently about that, because you have your son on human growth hormone, which is designed, or at least one of the impacts is that it facilitates height," he says.

"Right," she says. Carrie turns to Ellen. "And I think that's fantastic that you think that, but my son is not producing the growth hormone, and he is very small. He has a sister who's younger than he is, and she's about a foot taller than he is. And he doesn't like it, and he wants to be tall, and I'm going to do everything I can to help him."

Dr. Phil explains that psychological and sociological research suggests that those of short stature don't have any greater or different adjustment problems than those who are taller. Carrie disagrees.

Dr. Barnard speaks up. "When you inject them every day and in saying, ‘There is something wrong with you that we're going to fix,' when you track those kids over the long run, they are no better adjusted at the end of their treatment than they were before," he says. "What they are is at higher risk for long-term medical conditions. They have higher cancer rates. If society thinks there is something wrong with being short, the answer is not to inject the child; the answer is to inject some compassion into the culture that we live in."

"It's a very complex system," Dr. Sears says. "Growth hormone affects the calcium in your bones. It affects your muscles, your liver, all the organs in your body."

And it's not cheap. Ellen says it can be $20- to $40,000 a year for five to 10 years, on average.

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