The early puberty is also known as precocious puberty. It is happening when the child’s body begins changing into body of adult (this process is known as puberty) too soon. The puberty which begins before age 8 in girls and before age 9 in boys is considered as precocious puberty. Puberty is including rapid growth of bones and muscles, changes in the body size and shape and the development of the body’s ability to reproduce. In many cases, the cause for the precocious puberty is not found.
There are rare cases when certain conditions, such as brain abnormalities or injuries, tumors, hormone disorders and infections can cause precocious puberty. Usually, the treatment of precocious puberty is including medications to delay the further development. It is very important to encourage your children to maintain a healthy weight so in this way they will have decreased risk of precocious puberty. Also, you should keep your children away from external sources of estrogen and progesterone.
There can be different signs and symptoms of precocious puberty which depends on if it is happening in girls or boys. The precocious puberty in girls is happening before age 8 and the most common signs and symptoms are
- First period (menarche)
- Breast growth
The precocious puberty in boys is happening before age 9 and the most common signs and symptoms include:
- Deepening voice
- Facial hair which is usually growing firstly on the upper lip
- Enlarged testicles and penis
Also, there are some signs and symptoms which can happen in both boys and girls, such as
- Adult body odor
- Rapid growth
- Pubic or underarm hair
If your child has any of the mentioned signs and symptoms of precocious puberty, then you should make an appointment with your child’s doctor.
The most common causes for the precocious puberty are:
- Severe hypothyroidism
- Disorders of the adrenal gland
- Tumors of the ovary or testis
- Other tumors that secrete human chorionic gonadotropin
- Certain rare genetic syndromes
There are some factors which can increase the risk of precocious puberty, such as
- Having received radiation therapy of the central nervous system: The radiation therapy for leukemira, tumors or other conditions can increase the risk of precocious puberty.
- Having other medical condition: It is noticed that the precocious puberty can be a complication of congenital adrenal hyperplasia or McCune – Albright syndrome which are conditions that involve abnormal production of the male hormones (androgens). There are rare cases when the precocious puberty can be associated with hypothyroidism.
- Being exposed to sex hormones: When your child comes in contact with an estrogen or testosterone ointment or cream or other structures which have these hormones (such as dietary supplement or an adult’s medication), then he or she has increased risk of developing precocious puberty.
- Being obese: Those children, who are significantly overweight, have increased risk of developing precocious puberty.
- Being African – American: There are some studies in which are shown that the precocious puberty is more commonly affecting African – American children compared to children of other races.
- Being a girl: There are some studies in which are said that girls have increased chances of developing precocious puberty than boys.
Here are some possible complications of early puberty
- Social and emotional problems: Those children who begin puberty long before their peers may be extremely self – conscious about the changes that are happening in their bodies. This can affect their self – esteem and it will increase the risk of substance abuse or depression.
- Short height: Those children who have precocious puberty can grow quickly at first and to be tall compared with their peers. Their bones mature more quickly than normal so they often stop growing earlier than usual. This can cause them to shorter than average as adults. The early treatment of precocious puberty, especially when it happens in very young children, can help them to grow taller than they would without treatment.