The boy Akash (name changed) suffers from the rare medical disorder called precocious or early puberty.
When the toddler was just six months old, his grandparents noticed the abnormal growth. He wasn’t just taller than other babies of his age but his penis too was developing alarmingly.
“We thought he was just a big baby but later everyone started to point out that that this growth couldn’t be normal. His penis had grown to that of a man’s size and we knew something was wrong,” said the boy’s mother, Shabnam Praveen.
“Usually this disorder is caused due to brain or stomach tumour, but we didn’t find anything as such in blood reports. The child was lucky in a way because tumour usually increases complications and leads to cancer,” said the boy’s doctor Dr Vaishakhi Rustagi, consulting paediatric endocrinologist at the Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.
When Akash was brought to her, he was already 18 months old. His testosterone level was like a 25-year-old man’s and his brain development was like a 12-year-old teenager. Usually, a one-year-old baby’s testosterone level is 20 nanogram per deciliter but his were 500-600 ng/dl. Due to which he also started getting facial and body hair.
Dr Rustagi said only one in 100,000 have this condition for toddlers in age group of one year and one in 10,000 for boys aged eight to 10. Precocious puberty is more common in girls aged eight to 10, especially living in urban areas, she said.
“Since the baby was so young, he could hardly understand the changes taking place in his body. He would experience sexual urges. Precocious puberty is traumatic for a child of his age and it makes them violent. His muscle strength increased to a level that even his parents couldn’t control him,” Dr Rustagi said.
The kid was put on hormone therapy and within five months his hormonal developments and genital size decreased. He is given a dose once a month that blocks the effects of hormones. The treatment will continue till he is mentally stable enough to understand and accept the changes in his body.
“If kids with this disorder are not treated, they stop growing after a few years and remain just 3-4.5 ft tall,” Rustagi said.