Precocious puberty (Latin: pubertas praecox) is an unusually early onset of puberty, the process of sexual maturation triggered by the brain or exogenous chemicals, which usually begins in late childhood and results in reproductive maturity and completion of growth. Early puberty may be a variation of normal development, or may be a result of a disease or abnormal hormone exposure. In some contexts, the term is used more broadly to describe the early appearance of any of the physical features of puberty even if the complete brain-directed process is not occurring.
The causes of early puberty are not clear. Girls who are obese are more likely to physically mature earlier. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to make plastics, and is frequently used to make baby bottles, water bottles, sports equipment, medical devices, and as a coating in food and beverage cans. Scientists are concerned about BPA's behavioral effects on fetuses, infants, and children at current exposure levels because it can affect the prostate gland or mammary gland, and lead to early puberty in girls. BPA mimics and interferes with the action of estrogen-an important reproduction and development regulator. Suggested causes: 1. endocrine disorder 2. familial associations 3. abnormalities in the ovaries, testicles, or adrenal glands 4. structural problems in the brain 5. tumors that release hormones (estrogen, testosterone, etc.)
Studies indicate that breast development in girls and pubic hair in girls and boys are starting earlier than in previous generations. As a result, "early puberty" in children as young as 9 and 10 is no longer considered abnormal, although it may be upsetting to parents. No single age limit reliably separates normal from abnormal processes in children today, but the following age thresholds for evaluation will minimize the risk of missing a significant medical problem: * Pubic hair or genital enlargement in boys with onset before 9.5 years. * Breast development in boys before appearance of pubic hair and testicular enlargement. * Pubic hair before 8 or breast development in girls with onset before 7 years. * Menstruation in girls before 10 years.
One possible treatment is with anastrozole.