Delayed puberty and sexual development
"Most of the time I tell kids 'You're going to get there; it?s just going to take a bit more time.'"
Diane Stafford, MD, assistant clinical director, Boston Children's Hospital Division of Endocrinology
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.
Center for Young Women’s Health and Young Men’s Health Site Why are my friendships changing? How can I convince my parents that being a vegetarian is healthy and right for me? What types of birth control are available to me, and how do I use them? Young men and young women may have some concerns specific to their gender, and some that they share. At Children’s, the Center for Young Women’s Health and theYoung Men’s Health Site offer the latest general and gender-specific information about issues including fitness and nutrition, sexuality and health, health and development and emotional health.
Delayed puberty: Reviewed by Diane Stafford, MD
© Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2012