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Precocious puberty is a medical condition in which the process of a child turning into an adult i.e. puberty is initiated at an earlier stage than what is considered as normal. Certain characteristics like rapid growth of bones and muscles change the body structure, its ability to reproduce and manifest during puberty. If puberty is initiated before the age of 8 in girls and 9 in in case of boys, then it is a case of precocious puberty.
Studies to determine the actual cause as to why precocious puberty occurs have been inconclusive. In some cases, due medical conditions, such as hormonal disorders, brain abnormalities, brain tumor, and infections might cause precocious puberty. Generally medication is prescribed in such conditions to delay the process of puberty until later.
In case of girls, if you notice the below mentioned symptoms in a child who is about 8 years of age then it is a sign of precocious puberty:
- Breast Growth
- Menarche (First Period)
In case of boys if you notice the below mentioned symptoms in a child who is about 9 years of age then it is a sign of precocious puberty:
- Enlarged testicles and penis
- Facial hair
- Deepening voice
Also, there are few characteristics or traits which are common to both girls and boys and indicate precocious puberty if it occurs at an early age:
- Underarm hair or pubic hair
- Rapid growth
- Adult body odor
Precocious puberty might induce a few complications. A few have been stated below:
Short height: Children who are suffering from precocious puberty in many cases grow taller at a quicker rate at first. This generally causes such children to be of below average height when they enter adulthood. By early diagnosis and treatment of precocious puberty, such a situation could be avoided and the child in question would be taller than he/she would if they did not undergo treatment.
Social and emotional problems: Children who undergo puberty before their peers can end up being self-conscious about their body, which may result in low self-esteem or in extreme cases substance abuse.
Treatment of patients suffering from precocious puberty can be administered through medications like GnRH antagonist treatment. This is a monthly injection, which delays further development and has to be continued up to the point till normal puberty period sets in.