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Precocious Puberty (Early Puberty) in Girls

What is precocious puberty?

Precocious puberty is another term for early puberty. In girls, puberty is considered early if it occurs before the age of 8. The signs of puberty in girls include breast development, the development of pubic hair, and a big growth spurt.

Is precocious puberty a problem?

Precocious puberty may become a problem for a child. Early puberty can have an effect on your daughter's final height if it is not treated. She may stop growing before reaching her expected height.

What is the cause?

Usually, there is no apparent cause. Early puberty sometimes runs in the family.

How is precocious puberty diagnosed?

Your child's health care provider will examine your daughter and measure height, weight, and bone age. Your provider also checks the bone age by doing a simple x-ray of the hand and wrist to measure of the body's overall bone maturity. Your provider will also ask about your family history of early puberty.

In addition, your doctor may want to measure the level of the puberty hormones (such as, estrogen) with a blood test. A hormone specialist, called a pediatric endocrinologist, may need to look at the results of this test.

What is the treatment?

Treatment is needed if early puberty is likely to cause your daughter not to reach her expected height or if it will cause your daughter to have a lot of trouble socially. Early puberty can be stopped with a medicine called Lupron. This medicine mimics a natural hormone in the body and is given as a shot once per month. It has no known side effects, and once the shots are stopped, puberty begins again normally.

Your provider may want to see your daughter every 4 to 6 months to check her growth.

Written by Jill Simmons, MD.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2004-05-06
Last reviewed: 2006-02-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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