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Alternative Names Return to topPubertas praecox
Definition Return to top
Precocious puberty is when the body changes that normally occur during puberty happen earlier than normal. Puberty is the time in which sexual and physical characteristics mature.
Causes Return to top
The exact age a child enters puberty depends on a number of different things, such as a person's genes, nutrition, and gender. The main causes of precocious puberty are structural problems in the brain and tumors that release hormones.
Symptoms Return to top
In girls, precocious puberty is when any of the following develop age 8:
Some evidence suggests that it may be normal for these changes to occur as early as age 7 in Caucasian girls and age 6 in African-American girls.
In boys, precocious puberty is when any of the following develop before age 9:
Exams and Tests Return to top
Blood hormone levels, computerized brain scans, and abdominal scans are often used to diagnose the problem.
Treatment Return to top
Medications can stop the release of sexual hormones. Some tumors need to be removed with surgery.
Possible Complications Return to top
Children (of both sexes) with early sexual development are more likely to have psychological and social problems. Children and adolescents generally want to be the same as their peers, and early sexual development can make them appear "different." This can result in self-esteem problems, depression, acting out at school and home, and abuse of alcohol and illegal substances.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
See your health care provider if: