Puberty is the period at which the sexual organs become capable of exercising their function of reproduction. Increases in androgens (male hormones, the most well known of which is testosterone) and the female hormones (predominantly oestrogen and progesterone) create character changes. A boy will find that his voice deepens and muscle development increases, around the shoulders in particular. Erections become more frequent and seminal discharge will accompany orgasm. Girls will start their periods and develop a rounding of features, especially over the hips. The breasts will start developing at a faster rate.
The timing of these events is generally one year before or after the age at which the parent of the same sex went through their puberty. A delay beyond two years and an absence of puberty after the age of 15 years is considered a delayed puberty. Small children and those who are undernourished may find their puberty delayed. Chronic illness and the use of steroids in conditions such as asthma may also prevent puberty.
If puberty has not occurred by the age of 15 years, consult with a physician, who may refer the child to a paediatric specialist.
Consult a homeopathic practitioner for a suitable constitutional remedy.
If no underlying disease is apparent, test for nutritional deficiencies through blood and hair analysis under the care of a naturopathic specialist, and correct any nutritional deficits.
Consider some form of counselling, preferably art therapy, because a delay may create a marked lack of self-confidence at a very important time of the development of the psyche. Regardless, be extremely supportive as a parent and do not dismiss the child’s anxieties.
Should symptoms of puberty occur early, some concern may need to be dispelled. We come across those children who are mature beyond their years both mentally and physically and this may simply be a normal but early development. Musical and mathematical ‘geniuses’ may simply be children who have developed faculties before the expected age. These are not to be considered a disease process. Social chastisement may occur, however, and this needs to be addressed.
Extremely rarely, tumours of the pituitary gland may produce hormones that stimulate early periods or excessive growth , but these can be ruled out by blood tests and, if necessary, brain scans.
Excessive growth or other early developmental milestones should be assessed by a suitably qualified practitioner or paediatrician.
Moral support must be given by parents to support a child who may be ‘different’ to his or her peers. Counselling, preferably art therapy, can be utilized.
Early periods may lead to a tendency to iron and protein deficiency, which may inhibit growth. Increased growth or development usually corresponds to an increased appetite, but nutritional foods containing proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements must be encouraged and supplements given if the child is a pernickety eater.
Consult a homeopath for a constitutional remedy.