(Precocious Sexual Development, Premature Puberty)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Precocious puberty (PP) is when puberty happens before:
Puberty is a complex process of brain, body, and hormonal growth. In most cases, the cause is not known.
In some cases, PP may be caused by:
Precocious puberty is more common in girls.
Other things that may raise your child’s risk are:
Symptoms of PP in girls may include:
Symptoms of PP in boys may include:
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Your child’s puberty milestones and growth will be checked. Your child may be referred to a doctor who specializes in hormonal, glandular, and metabolic problems.
Blood tests may be done.
Pictures may be taken with:
Talk with your child's doctor about the best plan for your child. You child may need:
Medicine can be used to treat PP depending on the type. They may stop or slow sexual growth. They also halt the rapid bone growth and encourage normal growth.
PP may cause social problems in some children. Psychological support may be helpful. Talk to your child's doctor about what options are available.
Treatment of Underlying Conditions
If a health problem is the cause of PP, it will be treated.
Surgery may be needed if PP is caused by a tumor or other lesions. The procedure will depend on the site and size of the tumor.
The doctor will check your child’s height, weight, and sexual growth. This will help to note any changes or show if treatment is working.
PP can't be prevented.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
About Kid's Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
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Puberty and precocious puberty. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at:
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Updated December 1, 2016. Accessed March 18, 2020.
VN Brito, AC Latronico, Arnhold IJ, Mendonca BB. Update on the etiology, diagnosis and therapeutic management of sexual precocity. Arq Bras Endrocrinol Metab. 2008; 52(1):18-31.
Last reviewed March 2020 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 3/18/2020