Breast Tissue in Male Children: Should You be Concerned?

Although a preteen girl is usually excited to get her first bra, a boy’s breast development isn’t met with the same enthusiasm. If your adolescent boy has breast tissue should you be concerned?

The changes associated with adolescence can be both exciting and frightening to a pre-teen. Many developing girls eagerly anticipate the moment when they’ll put on their first bra and step out of childhood into the more complex world of the teen. The development of breasts is normal and expected in female adolescents, but what about a boy’s breast development? Is it normal or a cause for concern?

Although it isn’t often discussed, some breast development often occurs during puberty in a male with over half of male children over the age of fourteen manifesting some degree of breast tissue. This happens because of normal fluctuations in hormone levels that occur naturally a child transitions into adolescence. Although breast development in a boy isn’t something most male adolescents are going to advertise for obvious reasons, it’s usually not a cause for concern.

Generally, when a boy’s breast development occurs, there is only slight enlargement of the tissue in the breast region and it’s usually temporary. Usually, the slight enlargement of the breast tissue persists for a year or two and then gradually becomes less prominent as hormone levels stabilize, although, in some cases, the breast a boy’s breast development can persist throughout the teenage years.

In general, a boy’s breast development is nothing to worry about from a medical standpoint since normal hormonal fluctuations usually cause it; although there are genetic conditions as well as certain types of tumors that can cause teenage male breast development. For this reason, if breast development persists well into the teenage years, becomes pronounced, occurs before ten years of age, or is associated with a lack of the normal changes associated with puberty, the problem should be evaluated by a doctor.

 If breast development persists beyond the teenage years in a male, it becomes known as gynecomastia which is a term for excessive breast development in a male. Gynecomastia in an older teenage boy or adult male can occasionally be related to excessive use of alcohol or the use of anabolic steroids. Some athletes, particularly body builders who use steroids for building muscle can experience this problem. Breast enlargement can also occur when a male is overweight, although this is not usually glandular breast tissue but fat deposited in the breast region.

If gynecomastia occurs in an older teenage male or young adult, it will be important to have lab studies done to check hormone levels, as well as kidney and liver function since problems with these organs can promote hormonal fluctuations that lead to breast development in males.

In terms of a boy’s breast development, it’s unlikely you’ll be made aware of it since most boys this age are hesitant to discuss the topic and will make great efforts to hide it. In some cases, the trauma of being teased in the locker room or self-consciousness about having “breasts” can lead to psychological problems which can require counseling, but in most cases the situation will resolve itself with time.

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  1. You didn’t mention that coaches routinely help make the locker room situations worse for boys.

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