Precocious puberty: Facts that every parent needs to know about early puberty

The condition is becoming so epidemic that today one in every 5,000 children are facing a rare condition known as precocious puberty or early puberty.

Updated: Sep 16, 2016, 23:50 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Puberty is the crucial physical process of one's life when he/she makes a transition from childhood to adulthood.

Usually, the onset of puberty happens around 11 to 14 years in girls while in boys this happens around 12-16. But, over the past few years many studies revealed that the age of puberty onset has fallen substantially across the world.

Today one in every 5,000 children are facing a rare condition known as precocious puberty or early puberty and this situation is getting worse with each passing day.

What is Precocious Puberty?

As per a report in The Independent, precocious puberty is a medical condition that causes an early release of hormones from the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus areas in the brain, which in turn stimulates estrogen production, causing puberty to begin prematurely. The upper age for diagnosing the condition is undefined but it can occur in children as young as two years old.


In approximately 90 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys who experience precocious puberty, no underlying cause can be identified. In such a situation, the case is referred by the medical experts as 'idiopathic precocious puberty'.

When the cause can be identified, it is generally either an abnormality involving the brain or a problem such as a tumor or genetic abnormality in the ovaries, testes or adrenal glands, causing overproduction of sex hormones.

Obesity may also contribute to earlier puberty. The rise in child obesity levels linked to data suggesting the average age of starting puberty in the USA and Europe has gradually become slightly earlier because the more fat cells in the body, the more estrogen storage there is.


The symptoms of precocious puberty include breast development, rapid height growth, menstruation, acne, enlarged testicles or penis, or pubic or underarm hair.

But the condition is more difficult to diagnose than often thought. Pediatrician Paul Kaplowitz said only one in 10 of the children referred to him with signs of early puberty had true precocious puberty.


The primary goal of treatment is to enable the child to grow to a normal adult height because the condition can stunt their growth. In cases where there is no underlying medical condition, the condition can be effectively treated with medication, which usually involves a monthly injection that delays further development.

(With ANI inputs)