Toddler in puberty after exposure to father’s testosterone gel

He was getting way too big for his pants.

A toddler started showing signs of puberty after being unknowingly exposed to his father’s testosterone gel.

Barnaby Brownsell had developed a “substantial” penis, grown pubic hair, and gained incredible muscle by age 2.

His mother, Erica Brownsell of Brighton, England, got used to people commenting on her son’s size, remarking that he looked like a 4- and 5-year-old, or joking that he was a “Viking” and calling him ” called Samson’. †

However, Brownsell soon became concerned when Barnaby’s sexual nature started developing way too early.

“I knew it wasn’t normal,” the 43-year-old mother told Insider. “He would have huge, lasting erections and his height and weight were off the charts.”

At age 1, he was 16 pounds — and gained over 2 pounds every month after that. “It wasn’t fat, just muscle,” Brownsell claimed.

The toddler’s mother, Erica, was concerned after he developed a “large” penis and pubic hair and gained an incredible amount of muscle.
Thanks to Erica Brownsell

The concerned mother finally had her son examined by doctors in March, but medical professionals were also baffled by the toddler’s advanced aging.

However, blood tests would show that Barnaby had the same amount of testosterone as an adult man, although other tests showed he had the bone density of a 4.5-year-old child. The most common causes of too much testosterone are endocrine tumors or congenital disorders — both of which were ruled out for Barnaby.

“It was very scary,” Brownsell said. “No one seemed to know what was going on.”

dr. Tony Hulse, a pediatric endocrinologist at Evelina London Children’s Hospital in the United Kingdom, had continued to search for the cause of Barnaby’s rapid growth when one of his colleagues questioned whether the child had been exposed to artificial testosterone treatments.

“My husband [Peter] had been using testosterone gel for several years,” explains Brownsell.

Barnaby Brownsell with his father Peter Brownsell
Barnaby’s father Peter has since switched to testosterone shots to stop exposing his son to the hormone treatment.
Thanks to Erica Brownsell

Peter was born with a complex testicular condition, which he managed by applying a generous amount of testosterone gel – such as Testogel in the UK or AndroGel in the US – to his skin every day.

The parents shared the responsibility of caring for their son, as the ‘practical father’ often looked at Barnaby in the mornings just after he had taken his medication.

“I spent two years of my life thinking about protecting and caring for him — when in fact his own environment was contaminated,” Brownsell said.

dr. Benjamin Udoka Nwosu, the chief of pediatric endocrinology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, explained to Insider that testosterone gel absorption, commonly applied to the upper arms and shoulders, is “never complete.”

Barnaby Brownsell and his cousin
The Brownsell family is now campaigning to raise awareness about the risks of testosterone gel.
Thanks to Erica Brownsell

“There is still some testosterone on the skin even hours after application,” Nwosu said. Those who have close contact with the patient are “at risk of direct exposure,” which can cause the testosterone to leak into the bloodstream.

High levels of testosterone can be harmful to children if they enter puberty prematurely, leading to early development of acne, pubic and armpit hair, and oversized reproductive organs.

The family is now campaigning to raise awareness about the risks of testosterone treatment gel for children. Their aim is to see a prominent warning message and detailed package insert instructions on testosterone gel packaging in the UK.

Meanwhile, the US has added a warning label since 2009 after the Food and Drug Administration registered more than 20 cases of children entering puberty at an alarmingly young age as a result of exposure to the treatment.

Besins, the European pharmacy company that makes the gel, did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Fortunately for the Brownsell family, Barnaby’s high testosterone levels were noticed early on and would have no lasting effects on his health. His father switched from using the testosterone gel to injections to end Barnaby’s exposure to the hormone.

“The toxin has effectively distorted its appearance,” she said. “We’ll never know what he was supposed to look like at 2 years old.”

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