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Three-year-old Gulu boy hits puberty

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th July 2014 02:34 PM

“At six months, my son started to develop a deep voice, pimples on the face, pubic hair," says a perplexed mother.

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By Arnest Tumwesige

GULU - When Jennifer Akoko gave birth to her third child three years ago, like any mother, she was excited. However, the 28-year-old single mother’s joy soon turned to anxiety when the boy became six months old.

“At six months, my son started to develop a deep voice, pimples on the face, pubic hair, enlargement of his private parts and he began having wet dreams,” Akoko said on Tuesday.

The single mother who sells charcoal for a living resides in Pece division in Gulu municipality. She said despite the boy’s developing of features of puberty, she continued breastfeeding her son and even decided to take him to a nearby nursery school.

She said he continued to mature faster than children his age, which forced her to seek help at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor. “When we went to the garden, he would dig like a mature person and never liked being told to stop. Even at home, he would not play with other children,” she said.

For Bongomin (not real name), activities at school like singing and dancing were apparently childish and he would refuse to participate, especially so when his voice deepened.

“At school, he would hardly answer any question to the extent that he preferred being caned to singing or dancing with his peers,” Akoko said. Incidentally, none of Bongomin’s siblings or his parents’ relatives bear any of these traits, according to the mother.

As New Vision tried to interact with Bongomin at Gulu Central Police Station where his mother had gone to seek clearance before soliciting for support from well-wishers, he looked calm, more like a teenager than the three-year-old he is. The Police, however, turned her away, saying her issue was one of nature and not criminal.

Bongomin was first taken to the hospital in 2012 but, not much had changed until March this year when his mother Akoko was referred to an endocrine doctor who works at Gulu for further management.

Dr. Beatrice Odongkara, an endocrine specialist and lecturer at Gulu University, said Bongomin was subjected to a test which revealed that he has very high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone — higher than those of an adult.

“Equally, a bone test indicated that he is 9-10 years old, meaning that he is more mature by almost seven years,” Odongkara said. Bongomin now weighs 27kg.

Jennifer Akoko, 28, the mother of the boy, is a very worried mum. PHOTO/Arnest Tumwesige

Required tests

Currently, Bongomin is being treated with hormones used in contraceptive which, according to the doctor, are not enough to slow down the rapid growth despite registering successes in the reduction of adult body odour, aggressiveness, pimples and the entire body growth rate.

For better results, Odongkara said Bongomin might need a Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone Analogues (GnRHa), which is given every after three months to stop the rapid growth.

She said if not stopped immediately, Bongomin will continue growing taller very fast and later stagnate in growth because his bone plates will have stopped growing.

At the moment, Akoko needs at least sh1.1m for both MRI and CT scans, which she cannot raise given her limited income.

According to Odongkara, in case the boy’s current medication fails to check excessive growth, Bongomin will have to undergo surgery in India which may cost not less than sh40m.

To offer support, contact Odongkara or Akoko on 0779-262714.

Possible causes

Dr. Beatrice Odongkara, an endocrine specialist, explained that in boys, sometimes the gonads or testis can be stimulated to produce a lot of sex hormones whose control centre is in the cerebral cortex, which is part of the brain.

“It’s possible Bongomin could be having non-classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This is a situation where there’s decreased production of the cortisol hormone whose end product is channelled to the production of testosterone which stimulates pubic hair development, among others,” she explains.

Odongkara, one of the two endocrine specialists in the country, said the hamartoma tumour which grows in the brain is also notorious for disorganising the brain censors and causing what Bongomin is going through.

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