What is it?

Precocious sexual development and puberty is when the child's body begins to change and have adult characteristics too early. Precocious puberty refers to the beginning of puberty before the age 9 in boys and 8 in girls. Puberty consists of several stages of changes such as the development of breast buds and pubic hair, enlargement of the penis and scrotum in boys, ance, armpit hair, height increase and having the first period.
When these changes occur too early, it is usually constitutional- meaning that no adequate cause has yet been found. Central precocious puberty refers to a situation in which the brain releases the puberty hormones too early in life. Usually, the reason cant be found but sometimes it may be caused due to tumors, radiation, injury, hypothyroidism, or genetic syndromes. Peripheral precocious puberty is less common and happens due to excessive release of estrogen or testosterone due to tumors, cysts, exposure to external sources of these hormones or genetic syndromes.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Constitutional sexual precocity
- Cryptogenic sexual precocity
- Early menarche
- Premature adrenarche
- Partial Androgen Insensitivity
- Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome
- Testicular feminization

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of precocious sexual development and puberty may include breast growth and first periods in girls. In boys, there is an enlargement of testicles and penis, facial hair and deepening of the voice. In both genders, there is a growth of pubic and underarm hair, rapid growth, acne and different body odors.


Diagnosis of precocious sexual development is done by physical examination, according to Tanner scale. Family history is very important as well, to look for familial patterns. Blood tests may be done to measure hormone levels in blood. A test called a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulation test is done to determine the type of precocious sexual development the child has. Other tests may include a brain MRI and thyroid testing.


Central precocious puberty is usually treated with a monthly injection of GnRH analogue therapy, or histrelin implants. For peripheral precocious puberty, treating the underlying cause is necessary.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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