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What is precocious puberty?

Precocious puberty is a condition when puberty begins for a child at a very young age, usually before eight for girls and nine for boys. Precocious puberty or central precocious puberty (CPP) is caused when the pituitary gland in the brain releases hormones that stimulate the gonads (testicles in males and ovaries in females) to produce sex hormones earlier than normal.

For females, signs include development of breasts, pubic hair and underarm hair; increased growth rate; and menstrual bleeding.

In boys, signs include growth of the penis and testicles, development of pubic and underarm hair, muscle growth, voice changes and increased growth rate.

The cause of precocious puberty often can't be found. Rarely, conditions such as infections, hormone disorders, tumors, brain abnormalities or injuries may cause precocious puberty. Prescription medications are available that can help your child develop at a more normal rate. If you notice your child is experiencing puberty at a very young age, talk to your child's pediatrician about possible solutions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.