FRIDAY, April 5, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Teen boys with a condition that causes them to have enlarged breasts suffer reduced self-esteem and other mental and emotional health problems, according to a new study.
Researchers conducted a series of psychological tests on 47 boys, with an average age of 16, who were undergoing evaluation for the condition, called gynecomastia. The same tests were given to a control group of boys without the disorder.
Among the boys with gynecomastia, 62 percent had mild to moderate breast enlargement and 64 percent were overweight or obese, compared with 41 percent of those in the control group.
Compared to those in the control group, the boys with gynecomastia had lower scores for general health, social functioning, mental health and self-esteem. This was true even for boys with mild gynecomastia, according to the study, which was published in the April issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
The findings show the need for early intervention and treatment, study author Dr. Brian Labow and colleagues at Boston Children's Hospital said in a journal news release. In certain cases, breast-reduction surgery may be an appropriate treatment, they said.
The researchers added that further research is needed to evaluate the physical and mental health effects of breast-reduction surgery on teens with gynecomastia.
Breast enlargement is common in adolescent boys and resolves over time in most cases. The problems persist in about 8 percent of boys, however, the researchers said.
The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about gynecomastia.