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From Iowa, USA:

Is is common for younger children (age 7) with type 1 diabetes to have underarm body odor? If so, would I just have my child use deodorant to control it?


The process of puberty has a couple of prongs. Recall that males and females make both male hormones (like testosterone and similar compounds) and female hormones (various estrogens). The male hormones that everyone makes contribute to pubic hair, underarm hair, teenage/adult underarm odor, pimples, facial hair, etc.

The ovaries and testicles certainly do make these male hormones but so do the adrenal glands that are normally situated above the kidneys. In girls, the ovaries typically begin to turn on around age 10 years or so (but can be activated by age 8 normally) while in boys, the testicles typically begin to turn on around 11 or so but can be normally activated as early as age 9 years. Many things influence this including family heritage and other genetic factors.

But in both sexes, the adrenal glands begin working sometime after age 6 years.

There are true worrisome pathologic conditions that can cause children to progress into puberty too soon - but most are not common. More benign conditions are more likely. Diabetes does not directly spur on early puberty or male hormone production. Yet individuals with degrees of resistance to insulin (typically if the individual is overweight) often will have an indirect process that can lead to some increased male hormone production from the adrenals and/or the testicles/ovaries. With your child at age 7, I would doubt one of the insulin resistant states.

You did not indicate whether your child is male or female but do bring up your concerns at your next pediatric endocrinology appointment. Simple blood tests can measure the degree of circulating male hormones and then your physician can judge if further evaluation is warranted.

Certainly, a deodorant can be used. This will not affect anything other than the social issue of diminishing the offending odor. It is simply cosmetic - they way that you likely use deodorant. Also consider using an anti-bacterial/deodorant soap.


Original posting 21 Jan 2004
Posted to Puberty and Other


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:54
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