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26 October 2017

How could a five-year-old possibly fall pregnant?

Most children experience puberty during their late tween or early teen years, but what do you do when your toddler starts going through puberty?

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Lina Medina is believed to be the world's youngest mother. Rare Historical Photos (RHP) documented the Peruvian toddler having her first baby when she was just five years old.

Medina, who was born in 1933, gave birth via C-section to a boy in 1939. She named her son Gerardo, after one of the doctors in the team of physicians taking care of her case.

Possible incest

The post said that Medina's parents noticed her abdomen growing and took her to the doctor, thinking it was a tumour. Soon after a doctor examined her, the doctor told Medina's parents that she was seven months pregnant.

Medina's father was arrested and taken into police custody because authorities suspected sexual abuse, but was later released due to lack of evidence. Rape wasn't an unusual occurrence in the small villages in Peru, according to a Time Magazine article, which documented another case of child pregnancy, this time with a nine-year-old.

RHP also reported that Medina is in her 80s, still alive, living in Peru, but that Gerardo died from a bone disease at the age of 40. When she was of age, Medina got married and, in 1972, had another child, 33 years after her first. 

Medina still hasn't revealed who Gerardo's biological father is and refuses to take any interviews.

What is puberty?

During puberty, the body essentially prepares itself for sexual activity and reproduction. Some physical changes are noticeable, such as breast development in girls and boys noticing their voice deepening.

Medina suffered from a condition known as precocious puberty – developing way before her time.

What is precocious puberty?

Precocious puberty is the early onset of puberty – for girls, before the age of eight and for boys, before the age of nine.

Physical changes girls experience are breast development, pubic hair growth and menses. Boys experience pubic hair growth, penile and testes enlargement, accelerated growth and a deepening of the voice.

What causes this condition?

Generally, precocious puberty is divided into two major subdivisions – Central Precocious Puberty (CPP) and Peripheral Precocious Puberty (PPP) according to the Pediatric Endocrine Society (PES).

Even though the condition is rare, CPP is the more common of the two according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Potential causes of CPP could be due to a gene mutation or a rare genetic disorder. Occasionally, it isn't due to a gene mutation, but rather issues relating to the central nervous system or a malfunctioning of hypothalamus or pituitary gland.

Anomalies with the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland could result in the release of several hormones could lead to CPP.

The hypothalamus is a portion of the brain which governs a number of physiological factors, one of them being the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is also known as the master gland, because it controls the hormone glands such as the thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries and testes.

Peripheral precocious puberty (PPP), where sex hormones are secreted prematurely from glands such as the testes or ovaries, is another division of the condition, but it's quite rare according to PES.

Getting a diagnosis

If CPP or PPP is suspected, a healthcare professional would review growth within the body and possibly run a number of tests where hormone levels are assessed.

Physicians may also run a series of X-rays to determine just how far a patient's bones have matured. They may also do an MRI to rule out tumours affecting the brain, spinal cord, hormonal glands, testes or ovaries.

Getting treatment

Treatment should be started as soon as possible. Other than "appearing" to be older than they are, the condition could pose serious health complications for the future.

A child suffering from the condition may need to go on a hormone therapy course to help reproductive organs and to help the child reach a "normal" height. Should a tumour present once tests are done, surgery may be required to remove the growth.

Families could also consult a mental health professional to help them along on their journey.

Image credit: iStock

 
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