Early puberty is also called precocious puberty.
Puberty is considered early in girls before the age of 8 and in boys before the age of 9.
Early puberty may be caused by tumors or growths of the ovaries, adrenal glands, pituitary gland or brain. Other causes may include:
- Defects in the brain, spinal cord or other parts of the nervous system
- A family history of early puberty
- Certain rare genetic syndromes
In many cases, no cause can be found for the disorder.
Two types of early puberty include the following:
- Gonadotropin-Dependent Precocious Puberty, also known as central precocious puberty. The puberty is triggered by the early release of hormones from the brain that are responsible for puberty. These hormones are called gonadotropins. This is the most common form of early puberty, affecting most girls with the disorder and half of boys with the disorder.
- Gonadotropin-Independent Precocious Puberty. This is a form of precocious puberty that is triggered by the early release of hormones from the ovaries or testicles that are responsible for puberty (estrogen and testosterone).
Signs of precocious puberty are the same as signs of normal puberty. However, each child may show signs differently. Signs of puberty include:
- Pubic and underarm hair
- Enlarging penis and testicles
- Pubic and underarm hair
- Facial hair
- Spontaneous erections
- Production of sperm
- Development of acne
- Deepening of the voice
Both boy and girls can experience the following during puberty:
- Moodiness because of hormonal changes
- Increased aggression
- Taller than peers, at first
Most children with early puberty grow fast at first, but finish growing before reaching their expected adult height. If not treated, most boys will not grow taller than 5 feet 2 inches and girls often do not grow taller than 5 feet.
Early puberty will cause a child’s body to change much sooner than his/her peers. This sense of being different, combined with the hormonal changes can cause emotional mood swings, which may make a child feel self-conscious. Your child may feel uncomfortable about his/her body changes as well. Helping your child cope with teasing from his/her peers, treating your child appropriately for his/her age, and boosting your child’s self-esteem are important steps to help your child adjust more easily.
The goal of treatment for precocious puberty is to stop puberty from progressing. Treatment will also depend on the type of precocious puberty and the underlying cause, if known. Specific treatment for precocious puberty will be determined by your child’s physician based on:
- Your child’s age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your child’s tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
The medicine used to stop puberty is called Lupron. It is usually given by a shot once a month.