Precocious Puberty

(Precocious Sexual Development, Premature Puberty)

Definition

Precocious puberty is the unusually early onset of puberty. Typically, this is before:
  • Age 8 years in girls
  • Age 9 years in boys

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 the cause is unknown.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 hypothyroidism
Other causes:
Abnormalities in Adrenal Glands or Hypothalamus May Lead to Precocious Puberty
Kidney and adrenal
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Hypothalamus
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Precocious puberty is more common in girls, and in Black or Hispanic populations. Other factors that may increase your child's chance of precocious puberty include:
  • Family history—some cases may run in families
  • Head injury
  • Infection in brain
  • History of radiation therapy to the brain
  • Taking sex hormones
  • Some studies have suggested a link between obesity and premature puberty

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