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(Precocious Sexual Development, Premature Puberty)
by Krisha McCoy, MS
Precocious puberty is the unusually early onset of puberty. Typically, this is before:
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:
Risk Factors TOP
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:
Symptoms of precocious puberty in girls may include:
Symptoms of precocious puberty in boys may include:
Symptoms in both boys and girls include:
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. An assessment of puberty milestones and growth will be done. Your child may be referred to an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in hormonal, glandular, and metabolic disorders.
Imaging tests are used to evaluate bodily structures. These may include:
Your child's bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Talk with your child's doctor about the best treatment plan. Treatment options include:
Different medications can be used to treat precocious puberty depending on the type. These medications stop or slow sexual development. They also halt the rapid bone growth and encourage normal growth.
Developing before their peers may cause social challenges in some children. Psychological support may be helpful. Talk to your child's doctor about what options are available.
Treatment of Underlying Conditions TOP
If an underlying condition is the cause of precocious puberty, treatment will involve treating the specific medical problem.
Surgery may be needed if the early puberty is caused by a tumor or other lesions. The procedure will depend on the location and size of the tumor.
Ongoing Monitoring TOP
The doctor will continue to check your child’s height, weight, and sexual development. This will help to note any changes or show if the treatment has been effective.
There are no current guidelines to prevent precocious puberty.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
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Puberty and precocious puberty. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 16, 2013. Accessed June 6, 2016.
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Wang Y. Is obesity associated with early sexual maturation? A comparison of the association in American boys versus girls. Pediatrics. 2002;110(5):903-910.
12/13/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114717/Precocious-puberty: Biro FM, Galvez MP, Greenspan LC, et al. Pubertal assessment method and baseline characteristics in a mixed longitudinal study of girls. Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):e583-e590.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013
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