Girls enter puberty between the ages of 8-14. Boys enter this stage between the ages of 9-14. Sometimes the physical changes may happen earlier. This is called precocious sexual development or premature puberty.
For girls, this means that before the age of eight they may:
Have armpit or pubic hair
Have mature sex organs
Experience their first period
For boys, this means before the age of nine they may have:
Enlarged sex organs
Armpit, pubic, or facial hair
Most of the time (ie, 90%) there is no known cause. With boys, between 25%–75% of these cases are due to an underlying reason.
Some known causes of premature sexual development:
Factors that increase the risk of precocious puberty include:
Sex: girls are 2 to 5 times more likely to experience premature puberty than boys
Family history—some cases may run in families
Taking sex hormones
Radiation of head
Infection in brain
Some studies have suggested a link between
and premature puberty
One symptom common to both boys and girls is a premature growth spurt in height. Children with this condition may be taller than their peers. As an adult, they may be shorter. The rapid growth also makes their bones stop growing sooner than normal. Other symptoms include:
This treatment is often used in children whose bone age is older than their actual age. These medications stop sexual development. They also halt the rapid bone growth. This will allow for normal bone growth.
has also been shown to be effective in delaying puberty.
Support may be valuable for children who are more physically mature than their peers.
Hormone-producing tumors or other lesions may cause premature puberty. They are usually removed with a surgery.
The doctor will continue to monitor your child’s height, weight, and sexual development. This will chart the progress. It will also show if any given treatment has been effective.
Most cases cannot be prevented. To help reduce the chance, make sure your child is kept as healthy as possible. This includes making sure they are eating well and getting all the nutrients they need. Help your child maintain a healthy weight. Avoid exposure to sex hormones.
Cesario SK, Hughes LA. Precocious puberty: a comprehensive review of literature.
J Ob Gyn Neonatal Nurs.
Chalumeau M, Chernaitilly W, Trivin C, et al. Central precocious puberty in girls: an evidence-based diagnosis tree to predict central nervous system abnormalities.
DeVries L, Kaschansky A, Shohert M, et al. Familial central precocious puberty suggests autosomal dominant inheritance.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab
Himes JH, Obarzanek E, Baranowski T, et al. Early sexual maturation, body composition, and obesity in African-American girls.
Ibanez L, Valls C, Ong K, et al. Metformin therapy during puberty delays menarche, prolongs pubertal growth, and augments adult height: a randomized study in low birth weight girls with early-normal onset of puberty.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a