Health and Medicinehealth

A 2-Year-Old Boy Showed Signs Of Puberty Due To His Dad's Testosterone Gel

The toddler became muscular, grew pubic hair, and developed a "sizable" penis. 


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockJun 17 2022, 15:42 UTC
Toddler hits puberty.
A similar case was reported in 2008 where a 2-year-old boy, whose dad also used a topical testosterone supplement, started growing pubic hair. Image credit: Halfpoint/

A 2-year-old boy showed signs of puberty – growing pubic hair and developing a larger penis – after he was exposed to his dad's testosterone gel. While rare, this is a problem that's been documented a handful of times in medical literature.


Speaking to Insider, the boy’s mother from Brighton in the UK became aware of the problem when her son grew noticeably large for his age. 

"I knew it wasn't normal," Erica Brownsell told Insider. "He'd have massive, sustained erections and his height and weight were off the charts."

"He weighed 26 pounds [12 kilograms] at the age of one and put on over two pounds [0.9 kilograms] every month between the ages of 12 and 18 months. It wasn't fat, just muscle."

Blood tests showed that the boy had extremely high levels of testosterone, the primary sex hormone in males that dramatically increases during puberty. Doctors ruled out common causes of this condition, such as problems with the endocrine system or a congenital disorder, but the underlying cause remained a mystery.


"It was very scary," added Brownsell. "Nobody seemed to know what was going on." 

One doctor then speculated whether it might be related to being exposed to artificial testosterone treatments. As it turned out, the boy’s father, Peter, was born with a complex testicular condition and had been applying testosterone gel to his skin every day for several years.

Testosterone gel is generally applied to the shoulders, upper arms, or stomach, and the hormone is absorbed by the skin. It appears that the 2-year-old must have come into contact with the topical hormone gel on his dad’s skin.


Off the back of the family’s ordeal, Brownsell is now campaigning for bold warnings to be featured on the outer packaging of testosterone gels in the UK, along with leaflet instructions highlighting the risks of the treatment. 

There are a number of medical reports that have highlighted similar problems with exposure to testosterone gel sparking early puberty in young children. In one case study from 2007, doctors in Alabama report how a 16-month-old boy developed pubic hair, an unusually large penis, and had frequent erections. Once again, it was that he was unintentionally exposed to his father's testosterone gel. 

Another similar case was reported in 2008 in Texas where a 2-year-old boy, whose dad also used a topical testosterone supplement, started growing pubic hair. They also concluded that more needs to be done to highlight the potential risks of using topical testosterone gels and creams, especially if they're spending time around children. 


"Patients being treated with these products should be educated about the possible risks of testosterone exposure to others and ways to limit exposure," the case study concludes.

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  • testosterone,

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  • puberty