Precocious Puberty! Is It Normal?
Puberty can be defined as the period in which your body goes begin to undergo series of changes. What if these changes occur too early? What if a girl of 6 years old begin to exhibit puberty signs? Will it still be regarded as normal? How would it affect her? This is what is termed Precocious Puberty.
Precocious puberty is a situation in which puberty before to occur at a very early age, say 7 or 8 in girls and age 9 in boys. Many doctors think it is now happening at a faster rate, especially among girls. Some of the factors considered to be the cause include hormones in food, single motherhood, and even social issues like sex in the mass media.
The following are some signs of precocious puberty as noticed in girls before 7 or 8 years of age:
- Development of breast.
- A spurt in growth – rapid height growth.
- Underarm or Pubic hair development.
- Begins to menstruate.
- Adult body odor.
The signs of precocious puberty in boys, before 9 years of age include:
- Enlargement of the penis or testicles.
- Voice deepens.
- Underarm, pubic, or facial hair development.
- Adult body odor.
The main cause of precocious puberty often cannot really be found. Precocious puberty can be caused by certain conditions such as tumors, hormone disorders, infections, brain injuries or abnormalities.
A hormone known as the gonadotropin-releasing hormone is released in the brain releases. This hormone informs the pituitary gland to begin to release the gonadotropins hormones. The gonadotropins hormones then tell the sex organs to start producing other sexual development hormones.
Doctors are still yet to pinpoint the exact cause of precocious puberty in girls. Childhood obesity has been linked to early periods by researchers.
Other causes include
- A brain injury
- A rare gene problem
- A noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland or brain
- A family history of precocious puberty
- An infection to the brain, like meningitis
- Radiation or chemotherapy in case of cancer treatment
The physical changes both girls and boys go through during the period of puberty are usually a clear evident to the doctor during his diagnosis. In order to confirm a diagnosis of precocious puberty in a child, the doctor may order urine and blood tests. These are examined to check for the existence of high levels of hormones. An X-rays of the wrist and hand of the child can help in displaying whether the bones are normal or maturing too rapidly.
Scanning and Imaging tests such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scans, and ultrasound studies can help in ruling out certain causes of precocious puberty, such as ovary or testicle, and brain tumor.
- Treatment for precocious puberty usually consists of medication to delay further hormonal growth.
- Treating the primary disease or cause, such as a tumor may also be done.
- Doctors can also use a drug to block sex hormones and check further development.