Puberty is one major factor that marks the beginning of adulthood, and precocious puberty is an alarming medical factor in children. Let us understand more on this term and all the factors surrounding it.
The human body develops with gradual streams of physical and psychological changes. We all know of puberty as being the phase when a person develops physical, emotional and hormonal changes into adolescence. It is the time when the sexual and physical characteristics in the body start maturing for adulthood. Precocious or early puberty can be defined as early puberty, that is puberty striking at an earlier age than the normal average age in boys and girls. In these cases, the pituitary gland will release hormones that signal the ovaries in girls and testicles in boys, to start producing hormones for reproduction that also result in gradual physical changes. The normal age for puberty is 10 -14 years for girls and 12 – 16 for boys.
Puberty before the age of 8 years in girls and 9 years in boys is considered as early puberty. It is simply the normal maturing of the body, but at an unusually early stage. It happens in both boys and girls, however, in girls it is more common than it is in boys. Studies have also concluded that apart from gender, there are also racial factors differentiating the age for precocious puberty. It is observed that African-American boys and girls mature much earlier than others. The following is an answer to all precocious puberty questions and its aspects.
This medical condition depends on various factors like heredity, gender, nutrition, etc. Sometimes, the issues can be related to genetic changes, tumors, injury, infections, etc. Conditions like Hypothalamic hamartoma (a disorder affecting the hypothalamus, which is vital for producing certain hormones and endocrine functions), disorders of the testicles, disorders of the ovaries, or disorders of adrenal glands like Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, McCune-Albright syndrome (a rare genetic disease affecting the bones and pigmentation) is also responsible, besides any accident that causes injury, trauma, or surgery, radiation, abscess to the CNS (Central Nervous System). Also tumors like gliomas, astrocystomas, germ cell and others that secrete HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), congenital abnormalities (birth defects) like arachnoid cysts, suprasellar cysts, hydrocephalus are also some causes. Puberty caused by these factors is precisely known as central precocious puberty. Though these are the possible causes, the exact reason for this early development is still not known. Development of sexual characteristics with the help from other abnormal sources is known peripheral precocious puberty. This disease is pretty common in children.
Signs and Symptoms
Precocious puberty symptoms and signs are normal to the body, but happen early. We have described the signs and symptoms in boys and girls, in the following.
The most important task for parents is to understand, if or not your child is going through precocious puberty. Children with early signs and symptoms of puberty need immediate medical help. Your doctor may first examine and then conduct tests like a CT scan or MRI of the brain and abdomen, blood hormone levels, and even X- rays of the hand, to check the bone maturity, etc. If early puberty is detected, the doctor may recommend you a treatment from a pediatric endocrinologist.
Once detected, the major function in the treatment is to treat the underlying cause, suppress puberty, and slow down or stop the rapid growth and development until the child reaches the usual age to deal with puberty. Puberty that is caused due to a medical issue or complication can be treated with medicines. Tumors can be treated with medicines and sometimes with surgery. There are drugs that lower the levels of sexual hormone development, and sometimes even stop development for a certain period of time. Treatment also does not hamper the potential height increase and other developments of your child in the long run.
Support and Care
Precocious puberty can be treated well. It is important to diagnose it and take proper treatment on time, as it severely affects the child’s physical and social well-being too. There is a risk of the child not reaching his potential height as early puberty will slower the growth soon. The child may not be able to handle puberty and all the changes at a tender age. He may feel socially deserted, may not feel comfortable with his peers, may also fall for depression and lack of interest in daily activities. Be honest with him and explain to him about the changes that are happening, and also the causes. Ensure and keep him updated about the treatment for the same, and that he too can feel normal soon, just like the other kids of his age. Seek expert advice if you or your child is not coping well with this problem.
The biological clock of your child needs to be at perfect pace, and with science on the rescue, all these complications can be tackled well.