Early puberty is a child's body change into adulthood (puberty) at an earlier age. These changes include changes in body shape and size, development of reproductive ability, and growth of muscles and bones. A girl is considered to have premature puberty when she is not yet 8 years old, whereas early puberty in boys occurs when she is not 9 years old at puberty for the first time. This condition is experienced by one in 5 thousand children.
The condition of puberty is triggered gonadotropin hormone (GnRH) released by the brain. The hormone that drives the testes and ovaries releases the sexual development hormone of testosterone and estrogen. These hormones show the changes in body shape and function in puberty.
Based on the attachment to GnRH hormone, there are two types of early puberty, namely premature puberty that is dependent on the hormonal gonadotropin (central precocious puberty or premature early puberty) and early puberty independent of the hormone gonadotropin (peripheral precocious puberty or early pseudopubertas). In central early puberty, pure abnormalities are caused by the release of too early GnRH hormones by the brain. While in the early pseudopubertas, GnRH hormone production may be normal, but the production of sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) has increased. This second type is less common, where only 2 out of 10 early puberty sufferers experience it.
On the other hand, there are changes that are often considered similar to early puberty symptoms, namely early breast growth (premature therarche) and pubic hair growth of pubic or premature puberty (premature pubarche). Although these conditions are considered worrying, but actually these two symptoms are not absolute marking early puberty. However, these conditions still need to be evaluated further.
Early Puberty Symptoms
Early puberty symptoms or signs are similar to those of puberty in general. However, these symptoms occur much earlier, ie before the age of 8 years in women and 9 years in men. Signs that can arise include:
- The presence of acne.
- Rapid body growth.
- Body odor is like an adult.
- Persons pubic hair or underarm hair.
In boys, additional symptoms may be heavier sounds, growth of the mustache and enlarged testicles, penises, or scrotum. While in girls, other special symptoms include the first menstruation and breast growth.
Causes of Puberty
In most cases of premature early puberty, the underlying cause can not be ascertained. Almost the majority of children with premature central puberty have no abnormalities or diseases that can cause this disorder. However, several factors are suspected to be triggers, including the McCune-Albright syndrome (a rare hormonal disorder that affects bone and skin color growth), hypothyroidism, congenital andrenal hyperplasia, tumors in the brain and spinal cord, and conditions of birth defects. In the case of premature psuedopubilis, the cause is exposure to estrogen and external testosterone (cream or ointment), tumors of the adrenal gland, McCune-Albright syndrome, ovarian tumors or cysts, and tumors in sperm-producing cells and testosterone.
In addition to these trigger factors, there are several conditions that increase a child's risk of premature puberty, including:
- There is a history of genetic disorders of the parents or siblings.
- Female sex.
- Underwent radiation therapy in the central nervous system.