Puberty can be a challenging time in one’s life. There are a lot of physical and emotional changes that take place during this time in a young person’s life. Puberty is defined as the time period in life when a person becomes sexually mature. The average age for a girl to begin puberty is about the age of 10 years old. For a boy, puberty usually starts around the age of 11 years old.
When Puberty Starts Early
In some cases, a person may start showing signs of puberty early. This is called precocious puberty. This is when the signs of puberty start before the age of 7 or 8 years old in girls and before the age of 9 years old in boys.
Signs of Early Puberty
Some signs of precocious puberty that parents should look out for are:
- Pubic, underarm, or facial hair development
- Deepening voice
- Mature body odor
- Rapid height growth
- Breast development in girls before the age of 7 or 8 years old
- Menstruation in girls before the age of 10 years old
- Enlargement of the testicles or penis in boys before 9 years old
Causes of Early Puberty
Puberty starts when the brain sends signals to stimulate the ovaries or testicles to make sex hormones. When early puberty occurs, it is usually due to the brain sending those signals early. In some cases, early puberty could be a sign of a more serious medical problem occurring with the thyroid, ovaries, or testes.
Is Early Puberty Bad?
When puberty ends, bone growth stops, so when kids have early puberty their bone growth will stop at an earlier age. Also going through early puberty can be difficult for kids emotionally. They will start to experience body changes earlier than their peers which can be challenging.
What Should Parents Do If They Think Their Child Is Starting Puberty Early?
Parents who notice early signs of puberty in their child should make an appointment with their child’s healthcare provider. Blood tests or X-rays may be ordered to diagnose early puberty. Your healthcare provider may recommend you see a pediatric endocrinologist which is a doctor who specializes in hormonal disorders. Depending on what the cause of early puberty is, the healthcare provider may prescribe medication.
Make sure to talk to your child about what they are going through and how they feel about it. Explain to them that these changes are normal for an older child but that their development is starting a little too early. If your child is struggling with these changes, talk to their healthcare providers about what to do.
- Precocious puberty (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2023