Precocious Puberty

Precocious puberty is the unusually early onset of puberty. Typically, this is before:

  • Causes

    Puberty is a complex process of brain, body, and hormonal development. If your child begins puberty at an early age, it may just be a variation in the range of what is considered normal.

    In about 25%-75% of affected boys, this condition is due to underlying medical conditions. However, for many girls and some boys there is no known cause.

    In rare cases, precocious puberty may be caused by conditions such as:

    • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
    • McCune-Albright syndrome
    • Tumors or disorders of the testicles, ovaries, or adrenal gland
    • hCG-secreting tumors
    • Hypothalamic hamartoma (HH)—a rare benign brain tumor near the hypothalamus

    • Severe

    Other causes:

    • Acute
      head trauma
    • Central nervous system infection
    • Radiation
    • Taking estrogen in girls
    • Taking male sex hormones in boys
    Abnormalities in Adrenal Glands or Hypothalamus May Lead to Precocious Puberty
    Kidney and adrenal
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    Precocious puberty is the unusually early onset of puberty. Typically, this is before:

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

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. An assessment of puberty milestones and growth will be done. Your child may be referred to an endocrinologist, which is a doctor who specializes in hormonal, glandular, and metabolic disorders.

    Images may be taken of your child's bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • X-ray
    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Testicular ultrasound
    • MRI

    Your child's bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.

  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent precocious puberty.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your child's risk of a precocious puberty include:

    • Gender: female
    • Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic
    • Family history—some cases may run in families
    • Head injury
    • Infection in brain

    • History of
      therapy to the brain
    • Taking sex hormones

    • Some studies have suggested a link between
      and premature puberty

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of precocious puberty in
    may include:

    • Development of breasts, pubic hair, and underarm hair
    • Ovary enlargement
    • Cysts on ovaries
    • Menstrual bleeding

    Symptoms of precocious puberty in
    may include:

    • Growth of penis and testicles
    • Development of pubic and underarm hair
    • Muscle growth
    • Voice changes
    • Facial hair

    Symptoms in both boys and girls include:

    • Body odor
    • Acne
    • Behavior changes
    • Growth spurt

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include: