When a boy begins puberty earlier than normal, the condition is known as precocious puberty. But as a parent, you may be wondering if your child really has precocious puberty or if he’s just going through normal puberty earlier than usual. It is necessary to distinguish between precocious puberty and normal puberty in order to differentiate whether your child is in one or the other.
The distinction between precocious puberty and normal puberty usually comes down to age of onset. Puberty in girls is considered earlier than normal when they develop breasts between the ages of 8 and 10. For boys, puberty occurs earlier than normal when the testicles develop between the ages of 9 and 12. In these cases, bone age will match chronological age.
True precocious puberty occurs when children show signs of puberty before age 8 in girls and age 9 in boys. In these cases, X-rays could reveal advanced bone age.
Signs that your child is in puberty
When a boy or girl reaches puberty there are some changes in the body that often have parents worried about precocious puberty. For example, many obese children may begin to have stronger body odor or grow pubic hair earlier than expected. But precocious puberty usually does not negatively influence a child’s development.
Menstruation in girls can also be a sign of precocious puberty. This is because menstruation occurs around two years after breasts start to appear. On the other hand, if a boy is growing bigger and faster than other boys his age, it could also be a sign of precocious puberty rather than normal puberty. But to know if it really is precocious puberty, the doctor should send an X-ray test to check the bone size of the boy or girl.
Types of precocious puberty
There are two types of precocious puberty: central and peripheral. Differentiating it through medical tests is essential to be able to determine the type of treatment if necessary.
Central precocious puberty
Central precocious puberty occurs when the gland in the brain that produces the hormones is out of whack for some reason. Signs include early breast development, pubic hair growth in girls or early testicular enlargement, and pubic hair development in boys.
Peripheral precocious puberty
Peripheral precocious puberty occurs when the sex organs or adrenal glands produce too much hormone. Sometimes girls develop masculine characteristics, such as facial hair, and boys can develop feminine ones, such as having enlarged chests, but this does not always happen.
If you notice that your son or daughter has signs of precocious puberty or you have any concern that your son or daughter’s development is not normal, the first thing you should do is go to your child’s pediatrician so that he can assess the situation. He will probably ask for a blood test and some x-rays to be able to diagnose if it is precocious puberty or normal puberty. Remember that the development of each boy or girl may have a different rhythm than other children and that you should not worry too much if your son or daughter is healthy and shows adequate development for their age. Every child is a world!