A little girl who grew breasts when she was just 2 years and started her period at age 4 is now going through menopause at just 5 years old.
Little Emily Dover was born a normal baby and even weighed less than her older siblings did at birth but as the weeks went by, she suddenly began experiencing “exceptional” growth and also suffered from “constant health issues”.
At 4 months, Emily was as tall as a 1-year-old. She was still a toddler when she developed cystic acne, breast buds and strong body odour and this left her parents shocked. The first time she saw her period when she was 4 years old, she had no idea what it was and thought she had pooed in her undies. The little child was then taught how to put panty liners on for menstruating.
“My foo foo is bleeding,” Emily tells her parents whenever she gets her period.
Within the past 12 months, she has grown hair on her forehead, back and vagina. Now aged 5, she is going through menopause and all the other often distressing side effects that older women experience.
Her mum, Tam Dover from Gosford in Australia, told Mirror Online her beautiful daughter is body conscious and aware that she is different from other children her age but she can’t understand why.
Recalling the moment Emily started menstruating, Tam, 41, said: “Because she has trouble toileting, she thought she had done a poo in her undies. We used panty liners and it didn’t last more than a day.”
She added: “She only had her period again the other day. She hasn’t even had a chance to be a little girl. She’s having to learn how to put panty liners on for menstruating.”
She continued: “It’s difficult to explain to her what is happening. She knows she’s different, she knows she’s much bigger than other children. She’s very conscious of her body.”
Emily, who weighs around seven stone, was born perfect “in every way”. She was smaller than her older siblings had been at birth.But after just a week, things took a turn for the worse. She became unsettled, started crying out in pain and had difficulty sleeping. She also started growing, rapidly.
Tam, who is also a mum to a 22-year-old and 20-year-old said: “Emily is my youngest child and she was also my smallest baby after birth. She was 8lbs. The child before her was 10lbs. The first week was pretty normal. After that, (things) turned quite bad, she wasn’t sleeping well, was in pain.”
She was finally diagnosed with Addisons disease this summer after years of doctor’s trips and tests. The disorder means her adrenal glands don’t produce enough steroid hormones. She also has central precocious puberty – where puberty starts too early in children – congenital adrenal hyperplasia and autism spectrum disorder. And she has sensory processing disorder and anxiety disorder.
When Emily began suffering from constant health issues at four months of age, doctors told the parents that the bouts of sickness and infections was likely a virus contracted at daycare. She also started complaining of painful breasts and stomach cramps and her family was referred to the Pediatric Acute Care Unit at Wyong Hospital. At the hospital, a series of tests were run and Emily’s hormone levels came back as though she was a pregnant woman, according to her mum.
“Emily was then 3 years of age; she had breast buds, strega on her legs, excess body hair, and acne,” said Tam, who works in a local public hospital. “Something was very wrong with our little girl.”
Despite the tests, Emily’s conditions were reportedly so complex that medics were unable to give a “definite answer”. She was considered a “diagnostic challenge” by medics and was in “constant pain” from her growth. She was eventually diagnosed with Addisons disease and is due to start her treatment of hormone replacement therapy that is a 3 monthly injection.
Tam said: “It is $1,455 (£1,105) per shot, and will throw her into menopause, with all the side effects that 50+ year old women have, and as we are both working, we are not entitled to health care /pension card rebates. So this treatment, along with her other many appointments and therapies, are covered by us solely. We work full time each and each time Emily is sick, it is days off, mostly without pay, as we have exhausted all of our leave entitlements.”
Like other girls her age, Emily wants to wear ball gowns, dress up and run around. But she still struggles to go to the toilet independently. Tam said although she and Matt, a security guard, don’t have a lot of family around them, they are “blessed with some close friends”.
“But through this we are mostly alone,” she added.
The couple are said to be “at a loss financially”, unable to raise money for all of the treatment their daughter desperately needs. Her parents Tam and Matt, 40, have created a Go Fund Me page to help with her medical expenses.
“What we are hoping is to raise some much needed money to get Emily more treatments and to cover the costs of her on going medical care,” Tam wrote.
Since setting up the GoFundMe page a couple of weeks ago, Emily’s family have been approved a health card which will help with the cost of medication. But “it still doesn’t provide access to NDIS (Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme) services.”
Tam added that, today, her daughter regularly suffers from “very painful” bone growth, sore and itchy breasts and sensory issues. Some days, she wakes up with swellings on her wrists and ankles.
Due to her condition, Emily suffers bullying at daycare and will soon have to face “being the different kid” at primary school and her parents fear that already.
More photos of Emily at different stages of her life below.