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Well, I guess it was inevitable in our child-obsessed, increasingly
therapeutic society. Growing up is now a disease! Maturing is now
considered to be some kind of malady. I’m alluding, of course, to
“precocious puberty.”

But, don’t feel bad. Because I had never heard of it either until I
saw a report on ABC’s July 25 “Good Morning America,” where Diane
Sawyer, a mom, a daughter and a doctor discussed the “treatment” for
“precocious puberty.”

The statistic that Sawyer said had caught her eye was that 15 percent
of white girls and 48 percent of African-Americans experience puberty by
the age of eight. “Eight!” she exclaimed. A “significant number” by the
age of seven. Thus, there’s a “whole debate” about this — the debate
being “whether
to treat this as a natural phenomenon or whether or not medical
intervention is required.”

The conversation begins with the mom being asked when she first
started “noticing something” about her daughter? Answer: When she was
about seven or so and was “growing very rapidly.” She’d get new shoes
one day. The next week the shoes were too small. Also, the daughter was
getting “much larger” and “thicker,” gaining weight, and this was “very
alarming.”

But, “no, not at all,” says the mom, did she think this was the onset
of puberty. However, at a dinner, a friend of the mom had a little girl
who had “precocious puberty.” The symptoms and signs were described. And
– eureka! — this mom says she thought, about her own daughter: “Gee,
maybe I should have her evaluated.”

Sawyer shows the daughter a picture of herself at age six, then a
picture at seven. She asked if she noticed the considerable difference
when it was happening? Answer: “No, I didn’t really notice the change.”
Beneath the daughter as she speaks are the words, “Precocious Puberty
Sufferer.”

The mom is asked if friends of her daughter have experienced what her
daughter has experienced? She says no, they are older and they all lived
in the same tract of 850 homes. Thus, “I thought she couldn’t possibly
have precocious puberty because there were already too many girls in
this
neighborhood.” What, exactly, the number of girls in this neighborhood
has to do with her own daughter’s puberty, I have no idea.

OK. It’s time to talk about “treatment.” So, ABC Medical Editor Dr.
Tim Johnson is brought into the discussion. He’s asked, What do we know
medically about how and why this “precocious puberty” occurs? Well, says
the Doc, that’s “a very controversial, complicated question.” He
mentions adrenal glands, the ovaries, environmental causes, early
hormonal kick-ins, pesticides. But, “it’s been very, very hard to pin
down. So, the bottom line is we really don’t know why this trend has
occurred.”

Sawyer wonders if there are “dangers” associated with “precocious
puberty”? Well, there are “potential dangers,” says the doc. And one is
“that the height, ultimate height may be shortened because the early
growth spurt may cause premature closing of the bones.” So, if you get
taller earlier you might not get even taller later? I guess this is what
this means.

The doc adds that most of the focus regarding “precocious puberty”
has been on the “psycho-social issues” which include the “difficulty” of
a very young girl having breast development, pubic hair, etc. and thus
“the increased risk therefore for related emotional problems and
increased risk for drug abuse and other emotional problems.” And then
this enlightening exchange occurs:

Sawyer (to daughter): “You said that — that you felt some emotional
changes that maybe your friends didn’t understand.

Daughter: “Yeah.”

Sawyer: “Tough, huh?”

Daughter: “Oh, yeah.”

Explaining why she got “medication” (Lupron) for her daughter, mom
says, “Because we felt she deserved to have a childhood, and by going
into puberty too soon, we would be robbing her of that.” The daughter
says this “medication” slowed her growth and made her feel “like I was
more of a kid.” So, she’s back to “normal”? Well, “sort of,” the
daughter says.

OK, how about it, doc? Is this a good idea — “medication” to arrest
puberty? Is there (ha!) a consensus on this? Answer (surprise!): “Not
really, because there’s so much debate about whether or not this is
simply something that’s normal but early vs. abnormal … you’ll get a
strong debate on both sides of that question.”

Well, now. Excuse me, but is everyone in this discussion nuts?! I
mean, it’s true. It’s not nice to try and fool Mother Nature.

When your kid reaches puberty, your kid is simply growing up,
becoming more mature, becoming an adult. Get over it, please. This is
not a disease that requires “treatment” or “medication.” And there’s
nothing “precocious” about it. When it happens, it happens. Deal with
it.

But, yes, — lest I be misunderstood —it is “tough” to grow up. I
agree. Yet, it happens to the best of us — or should.

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