Why do children reach puberty early?


Children become teenagers at a much younger age than in the 19th century, for example, when puberty set in around the age of 15. This would not be a problem if it did not have serious implications on the physical health of adolescents, but also on the mental health. For girls, puberty at an early age increases the risk of breast cancer and heart problems later in life, due to the prolonged action of the female hormone estrogen. According to psychologists, anxiety and other emotional disorders that teenagers experience are more difficult to manage at such young ages.

Brain tumors, a possible cause

Some children reach sexual maturity even before the age of 8 for girls and before 9 for boys, a situation in which we speak of precocious puberty. Girls develop breasts early, hair appears in the armpits and in the pubic area and menstruation occurs, and in the case of boys, hair appears in the pubic area, in the armpits and on the face, their voice thickens and they develop acne. In many situations, doctors fail to identify the reason why the child entered puberty early. This happens especially in girls. Sometimes the hypothalamus can be the one that early orders the sex glands to produce more sex hormones (estrogen in the case of girls and testosterone in that of boys). This happens because of a brain tumor, cyst, head trauma, infections such as meningitis and encephalitis, or a congenital brain defect.

Ovarian cysts unbalance hormones

In other situations, the secretion of sex hormones can hide a problem with the ovaries, testicles, pituitary gland or adrenal glands: tumors of the adrenal or pituitary glands, ovarian cysts and tumors in the case of girls and tumors of the cells that produce sperm (called cells germinative) or of those that produce testosterone in the case of boys. And certain genetic diseases can lead to the early onset of puberty: familial testotoxicosis in boys and McCune-Albright syndrome in girls.

The cause must be investigated

Any case of precocious puberty must be investigated, in order to treat a possible condition that puts the child’s life at risk. It usually starts with the investigation of tumor causes and genetic diseases, then tests are done to detect infections such as meningitis. If precocious puberty is found to have hormonal causes, treatments are recommended to temporarily block the activity of the sex glands. The drugs are necessary because early puberty stops growth prematurely. In the absence of treatment, boys can remain at a height of 1.55 meters, and girls at most 1.50 meters.