For a parent or a guardian, getting to comprehend that your child is entering puberty early can be very distressing. Questions that pop up in your mind are why is this happening to my child so early? Will be little girl be able to bear the effects of early puberty both physically and mentally? Precocious puberty states to the arrival of bodily and hormonal signals of pubertal growth at an earlier age than is considered normal. In the past years, sexual maturity was considered precocious in girls who were younger than 8 years; however, recent researches and studies conducted indicate that signs of initial puberty like the development of breasts and pubic hair are often prevalent in girls aged between six to eight years. Early commencement of puberty can cause a multitude of health problems. The quick growth spurt primarily can cause tall stature, but fast bone maturation can lead to linear growth to stop too early and can result in short adult stature.
What Is Early Puberty?
On an average, puberty starts in girls between the age group of eight and thirteen and in boys between ages nine and fourteen. Your girl can be medically diagnosed with early puberty when this normal procedure starts before time and endures to develop through growth spurts and bone maturation, generally for reasons we fail to understand. Girls who depict noteworthy signs of puberty and its advancement before age 8 are considered precocious. There are two main types of precocious puberty, central and peripheral.
- Central Precocious Puberty is a very common type. The process is alike to normal puberty but occurs early. The pituitary gland is encouraged to generate hormones, called gonadotropins. These hormones in turn motivate the testicles or ovaries to produce other hormones, like testosterone or estrogen. These sex hormones bring about the alterations of puberty, like breast development in girls.
- Peripheral Precocious Puberty or precocious pseudo-puberty is a diverse and rare condition. In this type, the hormones estrogen and testosterone activate the signs and indications. But the brain and pituitary glands are not involved. It’s typically an obstacle with the ovaries, testicles, adrenal glands, or a severely underactive thyroid gland.
What Causes Precocious Puberty in Girls?
The start of puberty or adolescence is typically activated by the hypothalamus. This part of the brain indicates the pituitary gland to release hormones that inspire the ovaries in girls to produce sex hormones. Especially in girls, precocious puberty is due to the brain directing hints much earlier than it should. There is no other underlying medical issue or trigger. This can often be a genetic cause too. Less often, precocious puberty is caused by a grave problem, such as a tumour, shock or trauma. Thyroid or ovarian complications also can lead to premature puberty. In these cases, other warning signs typically happen that point to a more severe problem. In some cases even very young girls usually from 6 months to 3 years old may also show breast development that later on vanishes or may last but without other physical fluctuations of puberty. This is called premature thelarche and usually doesn’t cause long-lasting problems. Similarly, some girls may have preliminary growth of pubic and underarm hair or body odour. This is termed as premature adrenarche. Although these kids may require to consult their health experts to rule out ‘true’ precocious puberty, most need no medical treatment and will depict the other anticipated signs of puberty at a normal age. In some cases, even obesity can lead to an early start of puberty.
How Does Precocious Puberty Affect Girls?
When puberty concludes, growth in height halts. Because their skeletons develop and bone development stops at an early age than normal, girls with precocious puberty that has not received timely treatment usually fail to reach their full adult height potential. Their untimely growth spurt may initially make them tall when compared with their peers. But they may avert from further growing and eventually may end up at a shorter height than they would have had otherwise.
Experiencing an early puberty can also be difficult and challenging for kids mentally and socially. Girls with precocious puberty, for example, maybe confused, ashamed or uncomfortable about getting their menstrual cycle or having enlarged breasts much before any of their peers. They may not be socially accepted and may be treated differently because they look older. This also leads to a change in their emotions and behaviour patterns, for example, the girls can get moody, irritable, aggressive and if not given proper attention may also develop a sex drive that is unsuitable for their age.
Start of an Early Menstrual Cycle
If a girl starts menstruating early, it’s generally owing to the fact that the hormones in her body that are accountable for puberty are being generated earlier. In most cases, there is no understandable or abnormal reason for why the body has started fabricating these hormones early, even though bodyweight, inheritance, ethnicity and activity can be significant factors. However, if a child starts her periods before age eight or nine, it is advisable to visit your child health provider or a gynaecologist.
Many girls who have early puberty don’t need any medical treatment. In those who do, the medical analysis generally works well in halting the process.
How Can Parents Lend a Helping Hand in Preparing the Girl for Womanhood?
As a responsible parent, it is absolutely right to worry about early puberty in your girl and you must take all the signs seriously. Along with medical treatment, parents should themselves try and give their child a simple, truthful elucidation about what’s happening within them. Try and explain that these body fluctuations are quite normal for older kids and teens, but that her body has started maturing way to faster. They should be informed about what they should expect along the way. Parents should leave no stones unturned in limiting the emotional and social anxiety kids may face from early maturation.