Growing for Good?
Growth spurts are a normal part of growing up, but these changes can have emotional and medical consequences for your child.
In addition to acne, body odor and sexual development, growth spurts are an expected consequence of puberty. Girls typically have their growth spurts between the ages of 10 and 14, with boys’ growth spurts usually occurring between ages 12 and 16. Weight gain is common during this period of change.
Children who have early or late growth spurts when compared with their peers may feel awkward or insecure about being the tallest or shortest kid in their class. Make sure your child knows what to expect when it comes to puberty — including changes in body size and shape. This is a crucial time to reinforce good messages about proper nutrition and exercise. Not only are kids’ bodies going through major changes, but children are learning habits that can last a lifetime.
Too Much Too Soon
While no one goes through puberty at exactly the same time, some growth patterns may indicate a problem. Growth spurts prior to age 8 in girls or 9 in boys may signal early-onset or precocious puberty. If your child is growing too quickly and also experiencing body hair growth, acne or other signs of puberty and is younger than age 9, consult your physician. If your child is growing excessively large for his or her age, it may be due to an excess of growth hormone, or gigantism. Although rare, gigantism causes delayed puberty and other physical problems.
Specialists called endocrinologists can help find the source of the problem, which is often related to the body’s hormone balance. Steps can be taken to prevent the early onset of puberty and avoid the emotional problems that can occur for young children who enter physical maturity too soon. When identified early, gigantism can be stopped or reversed by using medication to control the amount of growth hormone produced by the body.
If you have concerns about your child’s growth, talk to a pediatrician who can refer you to an endocrinologist. To find a physician close to you, visit THPG.org.
Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.