Early and Late Puberty Program

When your child’s puberty timing is off

Some parents dread the day when their child is going to start puberty. Is my sweet little boy/girl going to turn into a rebellious teenager with unpredictable mood swings?  The children have their own “growing up” issues.  There is added stress if your child starts going through puberty extremely early, like age 2 or very late at age 18.

The timing of puberty depends on multiple factors. Having a child go through puberty earlier or later than expected can be a confusing and anxiety-provoking for the entire family. Your son or daughter may feel embarrassed about being different from their peers or self-conscious about bodily changes.

Early puberty – Is my baby developing too soon?

When a child begins to develop secondary sexual characteristics like breast tissue or pubic hair before age 8 (girls) or 9 (boys) it can be very worrisome for parents. You may wonder if there is something more serious going on.

At Tufts Medical Center, our doctors make every effort to determine what has caused your child to begin developing early. We use blood tests, ultrasounds and other techniques to make sure that we get to the root of the issue and create the best treatment plan for your child.

If our tests show that your son or daughter has an underlying condition that has caused early sexual development, we discuss the treatment plan with you. We will coordinate your child’s care with any needed specialists, and continue to monitor him or her throughout treatment so that we can evaluate how it effects the sexual development.

If our tests show that your son or daughter is healthy other than the timing of puberty, we may recommend hormone suppression therapy to put the development on hold, or simply continue to monitor his/her progression of sex development. We will re-evaluate your child as needed to make sure that the medication is working and to determine when we should stop treatment.  With treatment, these kids go on to have a normal adolescence and adult life.

Late puberty – All of my friends have had it, why haven’t I?

Teenagers don’t like feeling left out. When “all” of your son or daughter’s friends have started puberty and they haven’t, they might start feeling anxious about being different.

In some patients absence of sex development in adolescence is caused by problems with sex hormone secretion. In others, pubertal delay could be hereditary or the timing could just be off. To determine the cause, we evaluate your child to make sure there are no underlying medical conditions like a hormone deficiency. If our laboratory tests and other studies do find an abnormality, we treat it and continue to monitor your child for sexual development.

If there are no underlying causes, we may recommend continuing to wait until the timing catches up and your child begins puberty on his/her own. We also offer treatment with sex hormones to jumpstart the onset of puberty.

To make an appointment, please call 617-636-8100.