An article published in December's Pediatrics describes a dozen cases of young girls who were referred to pediatric movement disorder clinics between 1997 and 2002 for evaluation of paroxysmal (episodic) dystonic posturing, which is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that force the body into abnormal movements and positions.
Many of the children were subjected to invasive testing and medication before neurologists discovered the dystonic-like symptoms were actually normal muscle contractions that accompany masturbation.
"Masturbation is a normal human behavior. It's not harmful to anybody," said Jonathan W. Mink, M.D., head of Child Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong. "But these children have had invasive procedures and have been treated with medication because their doctors either hadn't witnessed the movements or didn't recognize the behavior."