Definition

Precocious puberty (PP) is when puberty happens before:

  • Age 8 years in girls
  • Age 9 years in boys

Causes

Puberty is a complex process of brain, body, and hormonal growth. In most cases, the cause is not known.

In some cases, PP may be caused by:

Abnormalities in Adrenal Glands or Hypothalamus May Lead to Precocious Puberty

Kidney and adrenal
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Hypothalamus
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Risk Factors

Precocious puberty is more common in girls.

Other things that may raise your child’s risk are:

  • Having a greater body mass index, especially in girls
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Family history—some cases may run in families

Symptoms

Symptoms of PP in girls may include:

  • Breast, pubic hair, and underarm hair growth
  • Menstrual bleeding

Symptoms of PP in boys may include:

  • Growth of penis and testicles
  • Pubic and underarm hair growth

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Your child’s puberty milestones and growth will be checked. Your child may be referred to a doctor who specializes in hormonal, glandular, and metabolic problems.

Blood tests may be done.

Pictures may be taken with:

Treatment

Talk with your child's doctor about the best plan for your child. You child may need:

Medicine can be used to treat PP depending on the type. They may stop or slow sexual growth. They also halt the rapid bone growth and encourage normal growth.

PP may cause social problems in some children. Psychological support may be helpful. Talk to your child's doctor about what options are available.

If a health problem is the cause of PP, it will be treated.

Surgery may be needed if PP is caused by a tumor or other lesions. The procedure will depend on the site and size of the tumor.

The doctor will check your child’s height, weight, and sexual growth. This will help to note any changes or show if treatment is working.

Prevention

PP can't be prevented.