Precocious puberty or premature puberty is a condition when there is an onset of puberty before its expected time. This happens when a boy hits puberty before nine and girls attain puberty before they turn eight. You will notice changes like breast growth in girls, changes in voice, a sudden increase in height, etc. Read this article to find out what our expert, Dr Sudip Dutta, HOD, Department of Paediatrics, Central Referral Hospital, Sikkim Maninapl Institute Of Medical Sciences, explains about the symptoms, types, causes, and complications that can occur due to precocious puberty.
Symptoms Of Premature Puberty
There are various changes that occur in your body once you attain puberty. Some of the symptoms of premature puberty in girls and boys are as follows:
- The rapid growth of height before the age of eight years
- There is a growth of breasts and the occurrence of the first period in girls
- You may witness breakouts of acne on their face
- There is a growth of pubic or underarm hair
- Boys may experience a deepening in their voice
- There is an enlargement of the testicles and penis in boys
Types Of Precocious Puberty
1. Central Precocious Puberty
Central precocious puberty is a type of puberty in which the pituitary glands make hormones called gonadotropins that cause the testicles or ovaries to secrete hormones like oestrogen and testosterone. It is common in children and happens earlier than the usual time.
2. Peripheral precocious puberty
Peripheral precocious puberty is a type in which hormones like oestrogen and testosterone cause changes in your body but do not affect the brain and pituitary gland. It is a rare kind and is usually caused by a problem with the ovaries, adrenal gland, or an underactive thyroid gland.
Causes Of Premature Puberty
While the exact cause of central precocious puberty is unknown, some reasons may result in precocious puberty. Some of them are as follows:
- Growth of tumours may lead to precocious puberty
- Precocious puberty may be caused due to brain injury, which causes hormonal imbalance
- Another cause of precocious puberty may be inflammation of the brain
Complications Of Premature Puberty
Some of the complications of premature puberty are as follows:
If you have witnessed premature puberty, your height may grow at once but stop growing later. This is because your bones mature more quickly and stop growing as compared to other children. Therefore, parents must seek a doctor’s help to take the necessary measures.
Emotional And Social Problems
It can be difficult for children to deal with premature puberty when all their peers are yet to attain it. They can be embarrassed about their height, and girls might find it awkward seeing their breasts grow. In some cases, they can also feel secluded or might be treated older than their age.
Girls generally reach puberty between the ages of eight and 13, while boys reach it between the ages of nine and 14. Some risk factors that may cause precocious puberty are obesity, genetics, central nervous system problems, or other health conditions like hypothyroidism. Parents need to be sensitive towards their children and boost their self-esteem. Do not make them feel uncomfortable about the changes that are taking place, and be their emotional support.