What is precocious puberty?
Puberty at an early age is known as precocious puberty. It is the manifestation of physical and hormonal signs of puberty in girls at an early age than the normal estimated age of puberty. In general, puberty in girls younger than 8 years age, is designated as precocious. However, breast development and appearance of pubic hair have been commonly found in girls between ages 6 – 8 years. The onset of puberty before 9 years of age in boys is considered precocious.
Early puberty is associated with changes in the shape and size of the body, rapid growth spurt, the rapid growth of muscles and bones, and augmentation of the body’s ability to reproduce.
What are the causes of precocious puberty?
The causes of early puberty are hormonal disorders, infections, brain abnormalities, brain tumours, and certain rare conditions that may cause this condition.
Types of precocious puberty:
Central precocious puberty arises due to:
- An injury to the brain or spinal cord
- Radiation exposure to brain or spinal cord
- A birth defect such as hamartoma (non-cancerous tumour) and hydrocephalus (excess fluid build-up);
- A brain or spinal cord tumour
Peripheral precocious puberty
It is a less common type. There is no involvement of brain hormone that triggers this type of puberty. It mostly occurs due to excessive Estrogen in the body due to problems with ovaries and adrenal glands.
The causes of peripheral precocious puberty in girls include:
- A tumour in the adrenal or pituitary glands.
- Exposure to external sources of Estrogen
- Ovarian cysts
- Ovarian tumours
Combined Peripheral and Central Precocious Puberty
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of precocious puberty in girls
- The first clear sign of early puberty is breast enlargement. In the beginning, it is unilateral.
- Axillary (underarm hair) and pubic hair may appear early – at the same time as the appearance of breast tissue. Pubic hair and axillary odour (adult body odour) usually start at the same time.
- Early menarche
- Rapid growth
What are the Risk Factors?
The following are the risk factors for precocious puberty:
- Obesity: Children with excess body weight are at increased risk of developing this condition.
- African-American children are more susceptible to this condition.
- Children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia and with other disorders that produce excess sex hormones are at risk.
- Exposure to sex hormones – such as Estrogen through gels, creams, adults’ medications, and dietary supplements can increase the risk of this condition in children.
When to See your gynecologist?
After the onset of breast enlargement, menarche occurs usually after 2–3 years. a menarche is a late event. Anyway, if your girl child has any signs and symptoms of puberty, make an appointment with the gynecologist. The initial examination by your gynecologist that reveals the early puberty is the pubertal growth spurt.
Precocious Puberty Treatment
Early release of Estrogen in girls or testosterone in boys’ bodies causes precocious puberty. Treatment for precocious puberty typically includes medication to delay the further development of the condition.
If you are pretty sure that your girl child is suffering from this condition or suspect that she may have this condition, then meet me for a complete and thorough medical examination and diagnosis.