|Infographic by Anh Vũ
HCM CITY — An 18-month-old girl was brought recently to the Paediatrics Hospital 1 in HCM City from Tiền Giang Province with vaginal bleeding.
Dr Huỳnh Thoại Loan, head of the hospital’s Nephrology and Endocrinology, said the child had first been taken to a local hospital, where a doctor blamed it on poor hygiene.
But when the bleeding occurred every month, her mother brought her to the Paediatrics Hospital 1, where a doctor diagnosed the condition as precocious puberty.
Ten days ago a four-year-old girl was brought to the hospital because she had started menstruating and developing breasts.
The two girls are among 120 children diagnosed with precocious puberty since last year alone, Loan said.
The department used to get only five or six cases a year before that, she said.
Hà Nội’s National Hospital of Paediatrics has treated 450 in the last three years.
“Children with precocious puberty have the above signs before they turn eight years old in case of girls, and voice deepening, rapid growth and others before nine in case of boys,” Loan said.
Precocious puberty signals the pituitary gland to release hormones stimulating ovaries in girls and testicles in boys, according to the doctor.
The puberty age is inherited, but the reason is not known in the case of 90 per cent of girls precociously attaining puberty.
As for boys, 40 per cent of the cases are caused by a tumour in the brain that causes hormone release.
Food injected with hormones and obesity are also thought to be culprits.
Early onset of puberty has an effect on children’s psychology.
"Girls face a high risk of sexual abuse because they look mature and could have breasts," she warned.
Parents should keep a close eye on their children and bring them to hospital for timely treatment if they show signs of precocious puberty, she said.
If caused by a tumour, doctors could remove or monitor it, she said.
If doctors are unable to pin down the cause, they could use hormone therapy to stop production of the sex hormones prematurely causing puberty, she added.
Parents should learn about precocious puberty to avoid fears which might affect their children’s psychology, she added. —VNS