Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Children With Cerebral Palsy and Moderate to Severe Motor Impairment: A Cross-Sectional Survey Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVES: To compare the development of secondary sexual characteristics in children with cerebral palsy (CP) of moderate to severe motor impairment to children in the general population and to relate their sexual maturation to a measure of their body fat. METHODS: A multicenter, cross-sectional survey of 207 children who were 3 to 18 years of age and had CP of moderate to severe motor impairment (Gross Motor Functional Classification System [GMFCS] levels 3, 4, and 5) was conducted at 6 geographic sites; attempts were made to identify all eligible children through multiple methods and enroll them in the study. Trained research assistants performed anthropometric measurements, including subscapular skinfold thickness, determined GMFCS level, and assessed sexual maturation by Tanner stage. Secondary sexual characteristics were compared with the general population of children using cross-sectional surveys of the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Research in Office Settings network and of the National Center for Health Statistics National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III. Girls were classified as having begun puberty when they were at Tanner stage 2 or greater for pubic hair and breast development and to have completed puberty when they were at Tanner stage 4 or greater for pubic hair and breast development. Boys were classified as having begun puberty when they were at Tanner stage 2 or greater for pubic hair and genital development and to have completed puberty when they were at Tanner stage 4 or greater for pubic hair and genital development. RESULTS: The mean age (standard deviation) of subjects was 9.6 (4.6) years. Of the 207 subjects, 71% were white, 21% were black, and 8% were of other races; 59% were boys, and 41% were girls. Girls with CP (n = 84) entered puberty earlier than did boys with CP (n = 123). In contrast, girls with CP tended to complete puberty later than did boys with CP. Black boys and girls with CP (n = 43) entered puberty earlier than did white boys and girls with CP (n = 147). No difference between races was found in completion of puberty. Only for white children with CP were there a sufficient number of subjects for comparisons of sexual maturation to race-matched children in the general population, using data from the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Research in Office Settings network and the NHANES III study. White girls with CP initiated pubic hair development (Tanner stage 2 or greater) earlier than in the general population, but the age of onset of breast development was similar to the general population, although the age distribution was different. A greater proportion of white girls with CP had early onset of breast development (Tanner stage 2 or greater), and a greater proportion had delayed onset of breast development than in the general population. White girls with CP completed breast development later than in the general population but not pubic hair development. For white boys ages 8 to 18 years with CP (n = 75), pubic hair and genital development both began earlier than in the general population, but genital development was completed later. The estimated median age of menarche for white girls with CP was 14.0 years, which was 1.3 years later (95% confidence interval: 0.7-2.3) than for the general population (estimated median age: 12.8 years; NHANES III). Relationships between sexual maturation and nutritional state, as assessed by subscapular skinfold thickness z score, were determined separately in white boys and in white girls with CP, between the ages of 8 and 18 years. For white girls with CP, more advanced sexual maturation was associated with more body fat, adjusting for age and GMFCS level (Spearman partial correlation: 0.41). In contrast, for white boys with CP, the opposite relationship pertained: more advanced sexual maturation was associated with less body fat (-0.29). CONCLUSIONS: The pattern of sexual maturation in children with CP of moderate to severe motor impairment differs from that of children in the general population. Puberty begins earlier but ends later in white children with CP, compared with white children in the general population. In addition, menarche occurs later in white girls with CP. More advanced sexual maturation was associated with more body fat in girls but less body fat in boys.

authors

  • Worley, G
  • Houlihan, CM
  • Herman-Giddens, ME
  • O'Donnell, ME
  • Conaway, M
  • Stallings, VA
  • Chumlea, WC
  • Henderson, RC
  • Fung, EB
  • Rosenbaum, Peter Leon
  • Samson-Fang, L
  • Liptak, GS
  • Calvert, RE
  • Stevenson, RD

publication date

  • November 1, 2002

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