Precocious Puberty

What is Precocious Puberty?

Rarely requiring treatment, Precocious Puberty is the early start of puberty. Growth spurts and other signs of early puberty can appear in girls as early age eight and in boys around age nine. Precocious puberty at very early ages is considered rare and affects less than one percent of all children.

What are the Symptoms of Precocious Puberty?

Precocious puberty is classified as either central precocious puberty, the more common of the two types, or peripheral precocious puberty, which is caused by the female and male hormones (estrogen, testosterone) and is often related to issues with glands. Central precocious puberty is caused by stimulation of the ovaries or testicles by the pituitary gland. It can sometimes be triggered by tumors or brain inflammation that creates a hormone imbalance.

Signs for girls:

  • Breast development
  • Menstruation

Signs for boys:

  • Testicle development
  • Voice deepening

How is Precocious Puberty Treated?

Diagnosis sometimes includes blood tests, MRIs, and ultrasounds. When treatment is necessary, GnRH analogs are delivered as implants or monthly injections to block hormones from the pituitary gland. Results of puberty halting, or reversing in some cases, are often seen within 6-12 months.

Management

If puberty starts too early it may cause bone maturation to end early, stunted growth, or emotional distress. Most children who experience some form of early puberty have little or no medical, psychological, or social issues. There’s no evidence to suggest early puberty leads to sexual activity at an earlier age.

How precocious puberty is handled depends on the age it occurs and whether or not a child is able to deal with the physical and psychological effects of puberty. When treatment is necessary, progression of puberty is usually successfully halted and continues within a normal age range. Studies suggest puberty, in general, is starting at a slightly earlier age than in previous generations.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
August 29, 2017