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Sleuthing out precocious puberty.

It's a reason for concern when the changes of puberty occur before age seven in girls or age nine for boys. This condition, called "precocious puberty," may indicate an endocrine or other disorder. But there are some less serious causes of precocious puberty. Exposure to certain hormones, such as testosterone, is one.

In April 2006, Dr. Michael Dedekian and his colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Medical School presented a paper at the Pediatric Academic Society that discussed the case of two siblings, a 3-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother, who began to grow pubic hair. Their doctor was concerned about a genetic endocrine disorder since it's rare for two siblings to show the signs of precocious puberty. What was particularly odd was that the changes occurred in both children at the same time.

Further investigation revealed that their father had ordered a concentrated testosterone skin cream over the Internet for cosmetic and sexual performance purposes. Normal skin contact between the children and their father resulted in enough absorption of the testosterone by the children to cause their pubic hair growth and genital enlargement. The boy also became more aggressive. Once the children's exposure to all family members who had used the cream was eliminated, their prepubertal and behavioral problems returned to normal.

New York Times, 10/17/06

John E. Monaco, M.D., is board certified in both Pediatrics and Pediatric Critical Care. His new book, Moondance to Eternity, is now available. He lives and works in Tampa, Florida. He welcomes your comments, suggestions, and thoughts on his observations.

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Title Annotation:Children in Hospitals
Author:Monaco, John E.
Publication:Pediatrics for Parents
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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