SPROUTING, CHANGING, GROWING
Voice changes. Acne. Raging hormones. At some point, every little boy and girl grows up and into adulthood. The stage of life when this is most present is puberty. What’s the best way to explain what your child is going through? Less is usually best. “Normally, if kids ask questions, they don’t need detailed answers,” says Dr. Reh. “Answer just the question they ask. Keep it very simple; tell them it’s a normal process.” Parents should also be prepared to answer questions, again in simple terms, about what’s happening with the opposite sex.
FOR GIRLS ONLY
The first signs of puberty are either breast buds or hair growth in the private area, says Dr. Reh. In addition, girls will experience a buildup of fat in the breasts and around the hips, then the arms, legs, hands and feet will also grow taller early in puberty. “Later, around stage four of puberty, menstruation will begin,” says Dr. Reh.
FOR BOYS ONLY
“For boys, the earliest beginning signs of puberty should not start before age nine and they can be as late as ages 13 to 14,” says Dr. Reh. “The first sign for boys is actually testicular enlargement.” As time goes on, boys will begin to experience increased body hair and their voices will crack and become deeper. The growth spurt for boys is in the later stages of puberty.
Some children will experience delayed puberty. “It’s actually the most common reason for being shorter than your friends,” says Dr. Reh. “And it tends to be a benign [non-threatening] process.” If you have concerns about early or late puberty development, talk to your child’s pediatrician.
- Ages when puberty generally starts for girls: 8-13 Years Old
- Ages when boys experience a growth spurt: 10-16 Years Old
- Percentage of boys that develop temporary breast tissue during puberty: 50%
PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. CHRISTINA REH
Dr. Reh completed her pediatric internship and residency at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and her endocrinology fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She is a member of numerous groups, including the Endocrine Society and the Pediatric Endocrine Society.
Dr. Reh’s philosophy of care: “I approach patient care as if each child is potentially my family, letting parents know what the options are for treatment, or no treatment and incorporating what they want.”
Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology
This article was featured in the Orange County Register on December 31, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.