Precocious puberty is a health condition where a child’s body starts to take shape of an adult (puberty) very early. When puberty hits girls before 8 years of age and boys before 9 years, it is termed as precocious puberty.
Puberty involves development of bones and muscles, changes in body shape and size and growth of body's ability to reproduce.
Causes for precocious puberty Central precocious puberty
: There is no definite cause for this type of precocious puberty
. In this condition, the pubertal process starts normally. There is no underlying medical problem with children suffering from this condition. In some of the cases, these factors may play a role:
Peripheral precocious puberty
: Presence of testosterone
in your child’s body is the root cause of this type of precocious puberty. The less common peripheral precocious puberty occurs without the involvement of Gn-RH that usually prompts puberty. Instead, the cause is secretion of testosterone into the body because of health issues with ovaries
, adrenal glands or pituitary gland. The following may lead to peripheral precocious puberty in boys and girls:
- Tumour of adrenal glands or the pituitary gland which releases testosterone
- A rare disorder that also affects the skin and bone- McCune-Albright syndrome
- Certain creams or ointments that expose the body to testosterone
Precocious puberty signs and symptoms include early growth in girls and boys (8, 9 years of age respectively).
Signs and symptoms in girls include:
Signs and symptoms in boys include:
Signs and symptoms that can occur in boys or girls include:
Treatment for this disease depends on the cause. The main objective of the treatment is to enable the child to have a normal height.
Most children with central precocious puberty with no medical condition can be effectively treated with Gn-RH analogue therapy which includes a monthly injection of leuprolide
that delays further growth.
The child receives this treatment until he/she attains normal puberty
. Usually after 16 months of treatment, the process of normal puberty starts again.
However, if your child has an underlying medical condition, say, a tumour that's producing hormones and causing precocious puberty, the puberty can only be stopped by surgical removal of the tumour
It can be difficult for your child and family members to cope with precocious puberty
. But if you seek professional opinion and understand the disease, you may be able to deal with it in a better manner.