High Testosterone in Children

Children with elevated testosterone levels may be afflicted with a deadly disease. There are many reasons that a child might have high testosterone levels, and finding the reason for the hormone rise is the first step to treatment. Recognizing signs of elevated testosterone in children and knowing how to check for high testosterone levels could save your child's life.

Testosterone levels can be tested with a blood draw. (Image: MarKord/iStock/Getty Images)

Testosterone

Testosterone, a sex hormone that is produced in a man's testes, plays a vital role in puberty. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland regulate the amount of testosterone that the testes produce. Females' bodies also have small amounts of testosterone, which is produced in their ovaries.

High Testosterone in Adolescence

A child who has a high testosterone level may experience precocious puberty, which is an early onset of puberty. This excessive amount of testosterone may stem from a brain tumor, head trauma, an infection in the brain or ovary abnormalities, or it may come with no explanation. Endocrine and neurological changes that occur during adolescence, such as testosterone increase, may be brought on by substance abuse. Adolescent children with high levels of testosterone are likely to experience an increase in impulsive behavior and aggression.

High Testosterone in Womb

Cambridge University's autism research center launched a study in 2002, which links high levels of testosterone in fetuses to autistic traits exhibited in early childhood. The research involved studying the amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus and monitoring social behavior as the child grows. The research shows that higher testosterone levels in the womb correlate with children who exhibited a lack of social and verbal skills.

Testosterone Test

A blood test may be ordered by a doctor to check testosterone levels if a child looks like he is entering into puberty earlier or later than expected. A girl may need a testosterone test performed if she is exhibiting masculine characteristics, such as facial hair. Other reasons a doctor may want to check the testosterone levels in a child include looking for disease of the testes, adrenal glands, ovaries or pituitary gland.

Considerations

Boys who are seen by their peers as being stronger socially tend to have higher levels of testosterone than their peers who are less dominant socially. Children who experience puberty early usually will not achieve their potential adult height.

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