Precocious (Early) Puberty

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Precocious (Early) Puberty - Overview

Precocious Puberty is a rarely known term and it is astonishing to find out that a very little percentage of parents are aware of this condition. Precocious Puberty is when the child’s body starts to change into that of an adult before the onset of puberty. Precocious Puberty is known to begin at age 8 in case of girls and age 9 in case of boys. This condition leads to the growth of the bones and the muscles, along with the changes in the shape and size of the child’s body.

The causes for the occurrence of Precocious Puberty are yet to be known. However, certain conditions, such as infections, tumors, disorders in hormones are known to cause the onset of Precocious Puberty.

Causes of Precocious Puberty

There is no identifiable and definite reason for the occurrence of Precocious Puberty.

However, some of the following reasons are known to be the causative factors:

  • Tumors in the brain or the spinal cord
  • Chronic Defect (One which is present from the birth) such as the build up of excess fluid (hydrocephalus)
  • Radiation exposure to the brain or the spinal cord
  • Injury to the central nervous system
  • McCune Albright Syndrome – This is a genetic disease which is known to affect the bone and the skin.
  • Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia – This is a genetic disorder which involves the excess production of adrenaline.
  • Hyperthyroidism – This is a condition in which the thyroid gland is known to not produce enough amounts of hormones as needed by the body.

Signs and Symptoms of Precocious Puberty

The onset of Precocious Puberty begins at the age of 8 in girls and 9 in boys. Some of the major signs and symptoms of the same are as follows:

  • Onset of periods, menarche in girls
  • Growth of the breasts
  • Growth of pubic or underarm hair
  • Rapid growth
  • Onset of acne

In boys, the signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Enlargement of the testicles and the penis
  • Growth of facial hair
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Growth of underarm and pubic hair
  • Rapid growth in height

It is recommended to check out with a doctor if you witness the above mentioned symptoms in your kids before their age. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Precocious Puberty

The doctors may run a few tests in order to determine the condition in your child. These may include:

  • Opting for a physical exam
  • Blood tests in order to check the hormone levels
  • Checking the child’s and the family’s medical history

In many cases, the X rays of the wrists and hands are done in order to check the bone age of the child, which makes it very easy for the doctors to determine the rate at which the bones are growing.

In order to determine the kind of Precocious Puberty which your child is dealing with, the doctors may opt to go in for the GnRH test, in which the Gonadotropin releasing hormone is tested, after deriving the same from a blood sample. The rate of this hormone is higher in children who are suffering from Precocious Puberty.

Additionally, an MRI scan can be done in order to look for the brain abnormalities, if any which could be causing the onset of puberty. Thyroid testing is done additionally, in order to look for the signs of a slow thyroid function.

Treatment and Drugs for Precocious Puberty

Treatment of the condition is dependent on its cause. The major goal of the treatment is to make sure that the child is able to grow to a normal height. The Gn-RH analogue therapy is best known for the treatment of precocious puberty. In this, a monthly injection of the medication is given to the child. This injection delays the further development of the child. Until the child attains the age of 16, this medication is prescribed on a regular basis in order to make sure the condition is fully treated.

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