Delayed puberty

Cristina Traggiai, Richard Stanhope
Best Practice & Research. Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2002, 16 (1): 139-51
Puberty is the acquisition of secondary sexual characteristics associated with a growth spurt and resulting in the attainment of reproductive function. Delayed puberty is diagnosed when there is no breast development by 13.4 years of age in a girl and no testicular enlargement by 14.0 years in a boy. The aetiologies are: (i) pubertal delay, either with constitutional delay of growth and puberty or secondary to chronic illness, and (ii) pubertal failure, with hypogonadotrophic (defect in the hypothalamo-pituitary region) or hypergonadotrophic (secondary to gonadal failure) hypogonadism, or both (secondary to radio/chemotherapy). The investigation includes: history, auxological data and pubertal development examination. Boys usually require treatment and, if they do not respond, investigation. In girls it is appropriate to measure the thyroid function and karyotype first and, if necessary, to offer treatment. If they present with dysmorphic features, or positive familial history, an assessment is required before treatment.

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