Pediatric Delayed Puberty

Pediatric Delayed Puberty

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Summary

Pediatric delayed puberty occurs when an adolescent (12-17 years of age*) does not start puberty at the same age range as their peers.

Expanded overview

An adolescent’s body starts making sex hormones during puberty, typically between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls and 12 and 16 for boys**. When these body changes do not occur or progress normally, the child has delayed puberty. It is more common in boys than girls.

Causes

Most delayed puberty cases turn out perfectly fine, and the adolescent will undergo puberty at a later age. Patterns run in families – if one or both parents had puberty start late, it can also begin later in their children. Girls who are very active in sports and lack body fat can also have delayed puberty.

Types

  • Delayed puberty in girls — when a female adolescent whose breasts have not developed by the age of 13 and has not gotten her menstrual period by age 16.
  • Delayed puberty in boys — when a male adolescent’s testicles and penis haven’t gotten larger, and his voice hasn’t deepened and hair hasn’t grown in a variety of places by age 16. These changes take a total of 3-4 years in most males.

Symptoms

Symptoms of delayed puberty are different for girls and boys.

Girls

  • Breasts not developing by age 13
  • No pubic hair
  • Menstruation doesn’t start by age 16
  • Slow rate of growth
  • Short height
  • Uterus does not develop

Boys

  • High-pitched voice
  • Minimum body hair
  • Small and immature penis at age 13
  • Testicles smaller than 1-inch at age 14

*Age of adolescents as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
**Age of puberty is middle childhood to teenage years as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

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