Steroids for kids may be used for treating some diseases. But often drugs from this family are used illegally (to increase performance). Let’s talk about legal and illegal use of steroids by children (teenagers).
The Use of Corticosteroids in Kids
Oral steroids in the form of liquid or pills are potent medications capable of reducing inflammation and swelling of airways. Due to this property, they are prescribed by pediatric pulmonology experts to palliate piercing asthmatic attacks in children. There are three basic steroid pills for oral administration:
Parents should thoroughly follow doctor’s prescription making sure their child undergoes the full oral steroid course. This is the basis of effective asthma control and the key point in preventing aggravation of the disease.
The duration of the steroid-based treatment course is 3–7 days. When keeping to this treatment scheme children do not usually experience any side effects. If it is necessary to prolong the treatment course to 2 weeks, the doctor recommends reducing the dosage gradually.
A short-term use of oral steroids can lead to the following side effects:
- body weight gain (rare)
- mood changes
- increased appetite
- upset stomach or puking
A long-term administration of oral steroids can cause such side effects as:
- bone weakening;
- facial hair;
- increased appetite;
- stomach irritation;
- bodyweight gain.
Doctor’s careful monitoring of a child’s condition is necessary if the drug is being taken for a long period. Sudden discontinuance of steroids is unacceptable. The dosage is to be reduced slowly.
Anabolic Steroids for Kids with Stunted Growth
Anabolic steroids may be used in children (boys) with stunted growth, in particular with dwarfism.
In the process of taking the drug, the average growth increase for the year can increase from 1.7 to 2.9 inches or more. However, with the prescription of these drugs, the actual bone age of the child may outstrip the passport age (chronological). The ratio of chronological and actual bone age should be controlled by x-raying bone growth zones.
Otherwise, one can miss the time when the prescription of the drug with androgenic properties will stop further development and growth of the child (premature closure of growth zones occurs). Then the result of using anabolic steroids will be worse than expected.
Incidentally, HGH was also used to treat dwarfs. Roberto F. Escamilla, John J. Hutchings, Choh Hao Li (Calif Med. 1966 Aug) reported about two boys with with achondroplastic dwarfism treated with GH. There were also reports by Dagfinn Aarskog (1963), A. Prader, Ruth Illig et al. (1964), and other researches. Now, it seems, research work in this direction has stalled.
Kids and Illegal Use of Anabolics
Illegal use of anabolic is not new in the modern world. The society became partially nonchalant to the use of anabolic steroids by professional athletes. People are surprised but not shocked when they hear that elite athletes use illegal steroids when preparing for competitions.
However, there is another more dangerous problem. The use of anabolics that increase performance and improve muscle mass growth is widespread and increasing among adolescents. Some children begin to lawlessly use these medicines from age of 10!
Charles Yesalis, ScD, MPH, told WebMD that the latest figures are appalling. Why did the specialist say this? In the late 1980s, his research team published a study that showed that about half a million children used anabolic steroids at some point in their lives. Now steroids are not taken once, adults and teenagers use steroid cycles. Later, in 1998, his team (Michael S. Bahrke, Kirk J. Brower) issued another report, according to which prevalence of steroid use was 4%-12% among guys and 0.5%-2% for female adolescents.
In a recent study that was conducted among students in secondary and tertiary institutions in the US state of Minnesota, 2,800 students were interviewed for any product intended to strengthen muscle tissue, and for any other activity for the same goal. The group of respondents was very diverse: besides all the others, it included 29 percent of African Americans, 20 percent of Asians and 17 percent of Hispanics.
“We managed to find out that some young people (and sometimes, terrifically young people in secondary schools) did admit to taking suspicious and dangerous substances to strengthen their muscles,” said the head of the study Marla Eisenberg from the University of Minnesota.
Almost all adolescents recognized that they do these or other things to strengthen their muscles. About 90 percent of young people try to train muscles in the gym which can be considered more or less safe activity. The most surprising thing is that about six percent of the youngsters admitted that they took steroids last year, and 11 percent continue to do so to this day. Girls also use steroids. Among adolescents, oral steroid pills such as methandrostenolone are popular.
There are other studies regarding the issue. In 2007, Julie M Kerr, a researcher at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, and her colleague Joseph A. Congeni, published a material (in Pediatric clinics of North America 2007) according to which nonathletes espouse “win at all costs” attitude, their mentality fuels them to seek PEDs. The article is accessible via SemanticScholar.
In 1999, Harrison G. Pope, Roberto Olivardia et al. from McLean Hospital, Belmont hypothesized that the physiques of male action toys like “GI Joe” would provide some index of evolving the US ideals of the male body (Int J Eat Disord. 1999 Jul). The toys actually had bodies of AAS users. This factor cannot be brushed off.
Riskiness Should Prevent Misuse
The use of “juice” means that a child fills his body with a synthetic version of testosterone male sex hormone. In boys, it has a lot of bad consequences. The effect of anabolic can be even more severe for young children. But side effects of steroids in girls are even more dangerous, they include menstrual irregularities, voice hardening, the appearance of acne, increased body hair growth, and clitoral hypertrophy.
Why do children do this? Some of them want to get a better body while others just want to look like the actors they see in movies (a good example is Dwayne Johnson).
Disclaimer. This info shouldn’t be treated as a medical consultation. Don’t use crowdsourced resources instead visiting a doctor.