Monday, January 8, 2007

Have you heard of Precocious Puberty?

It was a new phrase to me a couple of years ago. It is puberty that starts prematurely. In girls, the onset of signs of puberty before the age or 7 or 8 is a concern. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with precocious puberty at the age of 7, and we have had regular doctor's visits with a pediatric endocrinologist every 3 months since then to check her progress. About a year ago, she began monthly Lupron shots to keep puberty at bay. The doctor expects to take her off the shots at age 11 and at that point let puberty take it's natural course. Sometimes precocious puberty can be a symptom of a larger problem. B had to go through an MRI to check her pituitary gland and and ultrasound to check her ovaries. She has no underlying medical problem. Most precocious puberty has no known cause. I wonder how much food preservatives and our diets and environment have to do with more and more children starting puberty early? I haven't been able to find any research backing my theory.

Some symptoms of precocious puberty in girls (Sorry, boys, I haven't researched male precocious puberty much.) are a growth spurt, pubic or underarm hair, acne, body odor, and of course, the onset of menstruation.

To me, one of the main causes for concern about starting puberty early was the emotional stress. Pubety is an emotional time for teenagers - a 7 or 8 year old doesn't have the emotional resources to know how to deal with all the hormone changes. The other main reason we decided to start medication is growth concerns. People generally stop growing after puberty. Therefore, children who experience puberty extremely early, stop growing early and become short adults.


Jane said...

B is very fortunate to have a mom who is on top of things and is getting her the help she needs so she can be a little girl as long as possible.

Joan said...

I am glad you wrote about Precocious Puberty. So few people are aware of this medical concern and the fact that it is so much more common than it used to be.