Precocious puberty in young girls: is it serious?

You might feel worried when your little girl starts gradually becoming a young lady, especially if it happens early. I will explain in this article everything mothers need to know about precocious puberty in young girls, its symptoms, causes, and treatment. Read on to find out more.

Cherifa Sharaf
Published on:Jul 7th 2022 |Updated on:Mar 10th 2024
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Puberty for girls

Puberty for girls is a series of hormonal, neurological, and physical changes that girls go through, for their bodies to be ready to conceive.

Symptoms of puberty for girls

- Increase in height.

- Breast development.

- Hair growth in the pubic area, and under the arms is caused by the emergence of testosterone.

- Accelerated height increase that can go up to 9 centimeters a year.

- Periods, which is the final stage of puberty, are reached when ovulation starts in a young girl’s body.

What is precocious puberty?

Puberty is considered precocious if breast development and body hair growth start before the age of 6 or 7 years. In this case, you need to take your daughter to see the doctor, to do some tests. And in case of the period starts before the age of 8 or 9 years. It is very important not to wait for the period, as it is the last stage of puberty, and consult a doctor if any of the other signs appear at an early age. In case you are suspecting that your daughter is going through precocious puberty consult her pediatrician who will likely refer you to an endocrinologist, for further testing.

 Causes of early puberty

The main causes are abnormalities related to the brain or other organs.

Anomalies in the brain

- In 90% of the cases related to brain anomalies, precocious puberty happens for unknown reasons.

- in 7 to 10% of cases related to brain anomalies it happens due to an anomaly in the brain that leads to the stimulation of the hypothalamus, which is the center of control and coordination in the brain. This stimulation caused by an anomaly, like a tumor, infection, or congenital abnormality, forces the brain to produce the puberty hormones earlier than expected.

Abnormalities in other organs

- Disorders in the glands, the uterus, or the ovaries such as ovarian tumors.

- A tumor on the adrenal gland, that would rush the production of testosterone.

Other causes

- Accidentally taking hormonal oral contraceptives.

- Childhood obesity.

- Genetic reasons.

Treatment for precocious puberty

As mentioned earlier, the main known reason for early puberty is a brain disorder. Thus, the treatment should be to fix that disorder and to stop the stimulation of the hypothalamus until the girl’s bones reach the normal puberty age. When puberty starts, the body begins producing Estrogen which causes an increase in the spine’s height. This increase stops quickly, which leads to having shorter leg bones. A young girl who is not treated for precocious puberty will have a short height.

Are periods regular at the beginning of puberty?

Periods are irregular at the start of puberty; they can be delayed up to two or three months. This is normal and doesn’t require any medical attention unless there is a hemorrhage.

When is puberty considered late?

If there is no breast development by age 13, and no period by age 15. Or if the breasts have developed, and the period didn’t start within three years. Or if the body hair starts growing and the period didn’t come by age 14.

Is precocious puberty more common in girls or boys?

Girls are 23 times more likely to experience precocious puberty than boys. But it is more common for boys to experience delayed puberty.

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Cherifa SharafObstetrics & Gynecology Consultant

Consultant of obstetrics, gynecology & Infertility, with years of experience in women’s healthcare. Dr.Cherifa is practicing at Qasr El Eyni Hospital/ Cairo University in addition to several other hospitals and centers in Cairo Egypt. She holds a Ph.D. in medicine from Cairo University in addition to the European Diploma of Operative Gynecology from Clermont-Ferrand, France, and Diploma of Management of Infertility from Antoine Béclère Faculty of Medicine Paris, France. Dr. Cherifa is very passionate about providing the appropriate health care to women and believes the overall health of a woman is key to her reproductive and maternal health. She is a strong believer in the importance of raising women’s awareness and educating them about everything related to health in general and reproductive health in particular.

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