Precocious puberty


Precocious puberty refers to the early onset of sexual development in children, occurring before the typical age of 8 in girls and 9 in boys. This condition arises when the pituitary gland releases gonadotropins, stimulating the development of the ovaries in girls and the testes in boys. Consequently, girls experience an increase in estrogen production, and boys in testosterone. While it’s worth noting that factors like ethnicity can influence the natural timing of puberty, when it occurs significantly earlier than expected for a child’s age, it is termed precocious puberty.

Signs of precocious puberty include rapid growth in muscles and bones, alterations in body shape and size, and the acquisition of reproductive capabilities. Though the precise cause is often unknown, in rare cases, conditions such as infections, hormonal imbalances, brain tumors, or injuries can trigger precocious puberty.

Treatment typically involves the use of medications that delay the progression of puberty by regulating sex hormone release, allowing for more time for normal physical and emotional growth. Early identification and intervention are vital to ensure children with precocious puberty receive the necessary medical care to manage their condition effectively and support their overall well-being.


Symptoms of precocious puberty include:

  • Early breast development and the first menstrual period in girls.
  • Testicle and penis growth, facial hair, and a deeper voice in boys.
  • Development of pubic or underarm hair.
  • Rapid growth.
  • Acne.
  • Adult-like body odor.

If your child exhibits any of these signs, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with their healthcare provider to address potential precocious puberty.


Peripheral precocious puberty is a condition where the body starts producing estrogen or testosterone too early, without the usual involvement of the hormone GnRH that triggers puberty. This early hormone release can occur due to issues in various organs like the ovaries, testicles, adrenal glands, or pituitary gland. There are some possible causes of peripheral precocious puberty:

  • Tumors: Sometimes, tumors in the adrenal glands or pituitary gland can release excess estrogen or testosterone, leading to this condition.
  • Genetic diseases: A rare genetic disorder called McCune-Albright syndrome, which affects bones and skin color, can cause hormonal imbalances and trigger peripheral precocious puberty.
  • Exposure to hormones: Using creams or ointments that contain estrogen or testosterone can also disrupt the normal timing of puberty.

In girls, peripheral precocious puberty may also be associated with:

  • Ovarian cysts: Abnormal growths in the ovaries.
  • Ovarian tumors: Unusual masses in the ovaries.

In boys, it can be caused by:

  • Tumors: Tumors affecting the cells responsible for sperm or testosterone production.
  • Genetic conditions: A rare genetic condition called gonadotropin-independent familial sexual precocity, which typically occurs in boys aged 1 to 4 and leads to early testosterone production.

Risk factors

There are several factors that can elevate the risk of experiencing precocious puberty:

  • Gender. Precocious puberty is more likely to occur in girls than in boys.
  • Obesity. Precocious puberty risk is increased by excess weight.