Sheri Marino MA, CCC-SLP

Sheri Marino MA, CCC-SLP

Director, Pediatric Health Initiatives | BIO

Looking at Lupron: Is it safe to change your child’s path through puberty?

The hormone suppressant drug, leuprolide, has multiple indications for both pediatric and adult populations. Marketed as Lupron and Lupron Depot-PED, this medication acts as a potent inhibitor of gonadotropin secretion to treat disorders such as central precocious puberty, endometriosis, infertility, autism, and has even been used for chemical castration.

Leuprolide acts by suppressing hormones that cause puberty. Through a complex process, estrogen and testosterone, which are produced in the ovaries and testicles, create the physical changes of puberty. These hormones are produced when the pituitary gland at the base of the brain releases hormones involved in the growth and development of female and male sexual characteristics. Along with the ability to reproduce, puberty causes rapid growth of bones and muscles, as well as changes in body size and shape.

For some children, these changes happen much too soon. In fact, studies show that the average age of puberty has dropped by 2 years in the US. When puberty starts before age 8 for girls and 9 for boys, with no apparent underlying reason, it can be diagnosed as central precocious puberty. Shockingly, children as early as age 2 can start developing bodily changes. Precocious puberty is said to effect 1 in 5000 children, with girls being 10 times more likely to experience it than boys.

While most cases have no known cause, there has been speculation that mercury in vaccines raises testosterone levels, or that hormones injected into the meat we consume could be responsible for early onset of puberty. Genetic mutations can sometimes be the cause, and often a parent or sibling has experienced early onset. There are mixed opinions about race being a risk factor, particularly in African Americans. Some researchers believe that puberty should only be considered early if onset is before age 6 in African American girls. Although studies show a link between obesity and precocious puberty, the reasons for this relationship are still unknown.

Early puberty can cause many physical and emotional problems for children, and may require treatment to prevent problems. Precocious puberty can cause short stature, behavior problems, early sexual activity, and stress. Kids may initially appear tall for their age, however, often end up being shorter in stature as an adult, because growing halts as puberty ends.

Delaying puberty to reduce the risk of stunted growth is often a motivating factor in treating with Lupron, but not without risk. Although puberty is said to resume as normal after medication treatment ceases, side-effects can be severe.

Studies show side-effects from the use of Lupron Depot-PED in children varied in clinical trials based on one month and three month administration intervals. The most common side-effects included injection site reactions and pain, rapid weight gain, and emotional lability. Other post-marketing reports indicate convulsions in patients with and without a history of seizures, epilepsy, cerebrovascular disorders, central nervous system anomalies, or tumors. Adverse events were vast and included gastrointestinal disorders, metabolism and nutrition disorders, and nervous system disorders, to name a few.

A study released in 1993 in the American Journal of Diseases in Children, which looked at the efficacy and safety of Lupron Depot, as well as the reversibility after it has been discontinued, showed that using Lupron Depot is safe and efficacious in the treatment of central precocious puberty in children. The effects showed to be readily reversible after treatment was discontinued and menarche occurred at a normal bone age. However, the study does say that “longer-term studies, including reproductive history, will be needed before the potential effects of treatment on fertility can be assessed.”

Parents wishing to ask about a hormone suppressant to treat their child’s precocious puberty must consider the benefits and the risks. Consulting with a pediatrician as well as an endocrinologist is essential to help parents decide if this may be the right option for their child.

While the use of Lupron for precocious puberty may seem standard protocol, some researchers have landed in the hot seat for its use as an alternative medical treatment for autism. Based on a theory that mercury in the brain binds to testosterone, by reducing testosterone, toxic mercury levels can be dropped. In their research studies, Dr. Mark Geier and his son David found that mercury raises testosterone and significantly lowers glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants. Research by Dr. Jill James shows that individuals with autism frequently have reduced glutathione levels, and, according to the Geiers, is a result of high testosterone blocking the body’s ability to produce glutathione. The Geiers believe that mercury tightly binds to testosterone, making it impossible to remove with chelation, therefore, by using the drug Lupron, testosterone levels can be moderated, and mercury can be released from the body. Chelation could then be used to eliminate remaining stores of neurotoxic mercury.

High testosterone is not only linked to precocious puberty, but according to the Epilepsy Foundation, testosterone can influence brain function through excitability of nerve cells and may have an impact on seizures. In autistics, the prevalence of epilepsy is significantly higher than in the general population – reportedly as high as 46% – and frequently develops in adolescents, coinciding with puberty. Likewise, high testosterone has been linked with aggressive behavior, also commonly reported to manifest in autistic individuals during the adolescent years.

The idea of moderating high testosterone levels of individuals with autism would appear to be a reasonable protocol to help reduce mercury levels, and possibly limit seizure activity and the development of some aggressive behaviors.

However, the medical and scientific community has not supported the idea of using leuprolide acetate due to the lack of science based evidence. In fact, the premiere advisory commission at the Institute of Medicine found the Geiers’ research to lack merit, and, in 2011, the Maryland Board of Physicians suspended Dr. Mark Geier’s medical license for putting children with autism at risk by misdiagnosing “precocious puberty” and prescribing Lupron.

While leuprolide acetate as a treatment for precocious puberty, infertility, and endometriosis has been supported in scientific literature, though not without risk, more research is needed to support its use as an alternative autism treatment.

Reference
    1. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-06-16/health/bs-hs-autism-precocious-puberty-20110616_1_mark-geier-lupron-therapy-mercury-autism-link
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8506834
    3. https://www.magicfoundation.org/Growth-Disorders/Precocious-Puberty/
    4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/precocious-puberty/basics/complications/con-20029745
    5. https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2012/06/01/11453/
    6. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-06-16/health/bs-hs-autism-precocious-puberty-20110616_1_mark-geier-lupron-therapy-mercury-autism-link
    7. http://www.epilepsy.com/information/women/all-women/hormones-and-epilepsy

 

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Sheri Marino MA, CCC-SLP

Director, Pediatric Health Initiatives

Sheri is a pediatric speech and language pathologist with over 25 years of clinical experience specializing in autism. As the Director of Pediatric Health Initiatives for the Focus for Health Foundation, Sheri contributes her clinical expertise authoring articles on autism and other chronic health issues and also manages the pediatric health grantees. Sheri’s professional experiences help guide the Foundation’s mission addressing chronic health issues related to environmental causes. Sheri also serves as the Executive Director of The Autism Think Tank, NJ, a non-profit organization which offers medical videoconferences with a team of renowned medical experts who collaborate on medically complex cases of autism around the globe. She is the founder of Rocking Horse Rehab, a pediatric rehabilitation and family wellness center specializing in therapy services for children with various disabilities including, autism, cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, brain tumors, and rare syndromes, neuromuscular and psychiatric disorders. Sheri has been featured on CBS News, NBC News, NJN and multiple cable networks.

4 Comments

Jaimi

I’m wondering if it’s plausible that it’s not just mercury, but also aluminum that is wreaking havoc in kids bodies. As the vaccine industry has removed much of the thimerosal from shots, they replaced it with aluminum. I don’t really see why one heavy metal would react much differently from another. I can read until I’m blue in the face that vaccines don’t cause autism….but my child had several vaccine reactions that led to an autism diagnosis and it seems pretty clear to me that the vaccines were at least somewhat involved, if not the sole cause.
Your article interested me because I am constantly trying to understand why the metals and other toxins are affecting boys at such a higher rate than girls and it seems pretty clear that testosterone is a factor. Your article supports everything else I’ve read and concluded and it’s very frustrating that the answer seems so glaringly obvious as to what is going on here with our children and especially little boys and yet, the medical community, for the most part, seems content to just ignore what is obvious, call it a coincidence and continue wasting time studying genetics solely. It’s so clear that our environment, GMO food, glyphosate poisoning, overuse of antibiotics and hormones and yes…overuse of vaccines with harmful adjuvants and other toxins…are the clear smoking gun for nearly every disorder plaguing children today.

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Jennifer Maria Waters

I agree with you. I can tell you however that Lupron is not the answer! Lupron has destroyed my body and bones. Funny thing is lupron is also why I started researching every med prescribed and vaccines. Lupron is poison. I have talked to thousands of people who have the same issues i have because of lupron. As a side note, doctor’s also get a really nice kickback for prescribing it. Its all about getting more money to them

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Jennifer Maria Waters

I can not believe they are now trying to push this poison on children with autism. Oh wait that means more money for them so of course they would. Parents I urge you not to allow this to be given to your children! I live with horrible life long side effects because I was pushed to use this, even though i didn’t want to. But I was told they “wouldn’t even consider any other treatment if I don’t at least give it a try.” I repeat, it’s pure poison!

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