Precocious puberty: Pathology, related risks, and support strategies

DOI: 10.4236/ojpm.2013.39068   PDF   HTML     6,265 Downloads   8,218 Views   Citations


Children are currently starting pubertal development much earlier than 20 to 30 years ago. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted from 1988-1994 revealed that the median age for breast development in white girls was approximately 9.7 years and 8 years in African-American girls versus 10.9 years ago. More recent data, however, indicate that some children are starting pubertal development even earlier (age 7 or 8 in girls or age 9 in boys). Very early pubertal development is identified as precocious puberty, a phenomenon that brings great concern to others besides parents: the child, their peers, school nurses, teachers and counselors. This paper discusses precocious pubertal development, possible causes or relationships, related risks, treatment and helping strategies.

Share and Cite:

Synovitz, L. and Chopak-Foss, J. (2013) Precocious puberty: Pathology, related risks, and support strategies. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3, 504-509. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2013.39068.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Davison, K., Birch, L. and Susman, E. (2003) Percent body fat at age 5 predicts earlier pubertal development among girls at age 9. Pediatrics, 11, 815-821.
[2] Kaplowitz, P. (2002) Precocious puberty in girls and the risk of a central nervous system abnormality: The elusive search for diagnostic certainty. Pediatrics, 109, 139-141.
[3] Kaplowitz, P. (2004) Clinical characteristics of 104 children referred for evaluation of precocious puberty. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 89, 3644-3650.
[4] Kaplowitz, P. (2004) Precocious puberty: Update on secular trends, definitions, diagnosis, and treatment. Advances in Pediatrics, 51, 37-62.
[5] Marshall, W. and Tanner, J. (1969) Variations in pattern of pubertal changes in girls. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 44, 291-303.
[6] Marshall, W. and Tanner, J. (1970) Variations in the pattern of pubertal changes in boys. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 45, 13-23.
[7] Herman-Giddens, M., Slora, E., Hasemeier, C., et al. (1997) Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice: A study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network. Pediatrics, 99, 505-512.
[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics (2013) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
[9] Biro, F., Galvez, M., Wolff, M., et al. (2010) Pubertal assessment method and baseline characteristics in a mixed longitudinal study of girls. Pediatrics, 126, 583-590.
[10] Lee, P.A., Kulin, H.E. and Guo, S.S. (2001) Age of puberty among girls and the diagnosis of precocious puberty. Pediatrics, 107, 1493.
[11] Faizah, M., Zuharis, A., Zulfiqar, M., et al. (2012) Precocious puberty in children: A review of imaging findings. Biomedical Imaging and Intervention Journal, 8, 1-8.
[12] Mayo Clinic Staff (2011) Precocious puberty.
[13] Kakarla, N. and Bradshaw, K. (2003) Disorders of pubertal development: Precocious puberty. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine, 21, 339-351.
[14] Slyper, A. (2006) The pubertal timing controversy in the USA, and a review of possible causative factors for the advance in timing of onset of puberty. Clinical Endocrinology, 65, 1-8.
[15] Phillip, M. and Lazar, L. (2005) Precocious puberty: Growth and genetics. Hormone Research, 64, 56-61.
[16] Styne D. (2011) Puberty. In: Gardner, D.G. and Shoback, D., Eds., Greenspan’s Basic and Clinical Endocrinology 9th Edition, McGraw-Hill Medical, Chicago, 527-549.
[17] Parent, A., Rasier, G., Bourguignon, J., et al. (2005) Early onset of puberty: Tracking Genetic and Environmental Factors. Hormone Research, 64, 41-47.
[18] Colón, I., Caro, D., Bourdony, C., et al. (2000) Identification of phthalate esters in the serum of young Puerto Rican girls with premature breast development. Environmental Health Perspectives, 108, 895-900.
[19] Rosenfield, R., Lipton, R. and Drum, M. (2009) Thelarch, pubarche, and menarche attainment in children with normal and elevated body mass index. Pediatrics, 123, 84-86.
[20] Kaplowitz, P. (2008) Link between body fat and the timing of puberty. Pediatrics, 121, S208-S217.
[21] Wang, Y. (2002) Is obesity associated with early sexual maturation? A comparison of the association in American boys versus girls. Pediatrics, 110, 903.
[22] Sonis, W., Comite, F., Klein, R., et al. (1985) Behavior problems and social competence in girls with true precocious puberty. Journal of Pediatrics, 106, 156-160.
[23] Trembley, L. and Frigon, J. (2005) Precocious puberty in adolescent girls: A biomarker of later psychosocial adjustment problems. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 36, 73-94.
[24] Phinney, V. and Jensen, L. (1990) The relationship between early development and psychosexual behaviors in adolescent females. Adolesence, 25, 321-332.
[25] Ge, X., Conger, R. and Elder, G. (1996) Coming of age too early: Pubertal influences n girls’ vulnerability to psychological distress. Child Development, 67, 3386-3400.
[26] Graber, J., Lewinsohn, P., Seeley, J., et al. (1997) Is psychopathology associated with the timing of pubertal development? Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36, 1768-1776.
[27] US Department Health and Human Services, HRSA, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (2009). Adolescent physical development.
[28] Antoniazzi, F. and Zamboni, G. (2004) Central precocious puberty: Current treatment options. Pediatric Drugs, 6, 211-231.
[29] Leung, A. and McArthur, R. (1991) Recent advances in the treatment of isosexual precocious puberty. Canadian Family Physician, 37, 2597-2604.
[30] YouTube Puberty videos.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.