Delayed Puberty / Delayed Sexual Development in Children

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It can be upsetting for a child to not be growing and developing physically as quickly as his or her peers. It’s usually nothing to be worried about, but having your child evaluated by a doctor can help set both of your minds at ease.

Delayed puberty is defined differently for boys and girls:

Here’s what you need to know about delayed puberty:

  • There’s a lot of variation in terms of what’s a “normal” time to start puberty.

  • A specialist, such as an endocrinologist, is often able to detect signs that puberty has started, even if it doesn’t look that way to you, your child or even your child’s pediatrician.

  • Delayed puberty can be caused by an underlying medical condition (e.g., celiac disease or a hormone deficiency).

  • There’s often a hereditary component to delayed puberty. If a parent was late in starting puberty, it’s more likely that his or her child might be, too.

  • In the overwhelming majority of cases, if treatment with hormones is required, it successfully jumpstarts puberty.

Delayed puberty: Reviewed by Diane Stafford, MD
© Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2012

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