Dear Dr Mitchell,
My daughter is 13 years old and not developing any breasts. What can I do to help?
The delay in breast development may be totally normal and might even be familial. Most young girls usually show signs of breast buds and breast development by age 10 to 11 years.
There are some medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus and bronchial asthma that cause a delay in the development of the breasts in young girls. If there is a strong family history of symptoms that might suggest the presence of diabetes mellitus, then screening should be done by doing a blood sugar test.
There are some girls who will enter high school without breast development and then develop normally at an older age. The presence of axillary and pubic hair development usually brings reassurance that breast development will happen at a later stage. The onset of the menstrual period is also a reassuring sign that all will be normal. In the absence of any of the signs of puberty then a complete physical examination to ensure that the vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries are present and normal is extremely important. A pelvic ultrasound can easily detect the presence of a uterus and both ovaries. If there is still cause for concern, then a hormone profile should be done to establish that the ovaries are functional.
There is no need to give her any medication to help with breast development once she is totally normal otherwise. If she is self-conscious because of comparisons with the other girls at school, then allowing her to wear slightly padded bras will help her to regain her confidence until the breasts develop fully.
The use of unnecessary medication is not advised. Consult your family doctor who will do a complete physical examination, pelvic ultrasound and blood investigation if deemed necessary.
Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or fax to 876-968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.