'What if my child doesn't grow taller?' 'Is it too small yet, does it wear out mentally?'… One of the issues that worries parents the most in recent years is 'early adolescence'. The reason for this is that there are various opinions stating that adolescence starts at an earlier age. Acıbadem University Atakent Hospital Pediatric Endocrinology Specialist Dr. Saygın Abalı, a faculty member, stated that in recent years, the number of referrals to physicians related to early puberty has increased in our country, “However, this increase may be due to the fact that puberty starts earlier, and it may also be due to the increase in the awareness of families. The results obtained from recent studies on adolescence age in our country; that breast development starts earlier, but there is no early shift at the age of first menstruation. “New studies on our observations, especially in recent years, are needed for clearer information on early adolescence,” he says.
Especially if it started around this age, beware!
Adolescence is a period that defines the maturation process of gender characteristics in transition from childhood to adulthood. This process usually starts with breast development in girls at the age of 10, and the first menstruation occurs at the age of 12-12.5. For boys, the process starts at the age of 11-11.5. Early adolescence is defined as the onset of puberty before the age of 8 in girls and before the age of 9 in boys. The first menstruation in girls before the age of 10 is also defined as early puberty. Dr. Respected Abalı, a faculty member, stated that girls with breast development, hair growth, acne and adult-type body odor should be consulted to a pediatric endocrinologist before the age of 8, and said, "Similarly, in boys, those with puberty signs such as growth of the genitalia and hair growth before the age of 9 should be evaluated." says.
Don't skip these first signs!
So, with what symptoms does early adolescence first manifest itself? "Breast development in girls is usually the first and most important reason for referral." Dr. Faculty Member Saygın Abalı said, “Fat deposits in the breast area in overweight children can be mistaken for breast development; however, the reverse is also common. Breast development in an overweight girl can be mistaken for adipose tissue until the later stages of adolescence. Therefore, especially if breast development started before the age of 8, it should be evaluated ”. Dr. Faculty Member Saygın Abalı emphasized that the first finding in men is the enlargement of the testicles, “Increase in the size of the sexual organ and hair growth are also among the first symptoms. Apart from these, rapid growth and rapid weight gain in both genders can be considered as the first signs of puberty. " says.
When does the treatment come up?
Early adolescence develops due to factors such as genetic factors, nutritional errors and obesity. In addition, the use of herbal aromatic oils such as lavender, which have estrogenic effects, supplements such as propolis, and foods such as quail eggs can also be the cause of early puberty. In addition to these, benign tumors or central nervous system diseases, albeit very rarely, can lead to premature puberty. Treatment in early adolescence, on the other hand, comes to the fore immediately, especially if puberty characteristics are detected before the age of 6-7. If it is detected over the age of 7-8, if a rapid progression is observed after mostly 3-6 months of follow-up, treatment is started. In addition, if the adolescent stage is advanced in girls older than 8 years, treatment may come to the agenda.
Hormone production is delayed
Early puberty can cause adverse effects on the adult height of the child due to the rapid maturation of the bones. For example; In an 8-year-old child, a bone age of 11 can be detected, which means that the adult height is less than expected. Apart from this, they may also experience psychological problems due to early behavioral changes and difficulties in adapting to early menstruation compared to their peers. In the treatment, pharmacological analogues of the hormone 'GnRH', which initiates puberty and is secreted by the central nervous system, is given to delay the production of hormones in the ovaries. One of the most important goals with this treatment is to prevent rapid maturation of bones and delay the menstrual age in girls. Thus, by increasing the anticipated adult height, it can be ensured that the child reaches the target height. Dr. Saygın Abalı, a faculty member, stated that the treatment was performed with monthly and three-month interval injections, “During the treatment, the growth and puberty process of the children are evaluated by the physician at 3-6 months intervals. This treatment should only be done by pediatric endocrinologists. " says.
These 5 rules are very important in communication!
“Adolescence is a period in which our children experience psychological and social changes in addition to their physical changes. The earlyness of this situation can cause our children to experience this mental and social change more difficult. Therefore, it is necessary to be very careful when communicating with the child with early adolescence, ”warning Dr. Saygın Abalı, faculty member, explains the points that parents should pay attention to:
- Make your child feel your love and support, without compromising the rules, but with respect for your child's personality.
- Avoid hurtful remarks, especially about her appearance.
- Do not make positive or negative comparisons with peers.
- Emphasizing that it is necessary for healthy growth; Offer suggestions on sleep time, eating habits, physical activity, and screen time.
- It is more important that we model them with our behavior rather than our verbal suggestions. Take care to include healthy living rules in home life not only during adolescence, but also from birth.