Early Puberty in Teenagers: Everything We Need to Know

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Early puberty can be quite alarming for your children. In most cases they fail to cope with the physical and emotional changes. As a parent you need to be very vigilant about this. It can be the most awkward phase in your child’s life.

There are many children who experiences early puberty but do not need treatment. However, in some cases they need treatment which will halt the process. Read this article to know more about the issues and help your child cope with early puberty.

Guide for Early Puberty in Teenagers

early puberty in teenagers

What is early Puberty?

Under normal circumstances puberty starts a bit earlier in girls when compared to the boys. Girls experience puberty between the age 8 and 13, whilst in case of the boys the age range is between 9 and 14 years. (Schreck, 2007)

Early puberty is diagnosed when the growth spurt happens early for reasons unknown. For both the genders the early signs are detected with the increase in bone maturation. Girls who show these signs before the age of 7 and boys before the age of 9 are victims of early puberty.

Early Puberty Signs in Girls

The signs of early puberty in girls are different than that of boys. Girls normally encounter puberty earlier than their male counterparts. The signs of early puberty in girls include breast development.

It is normally the first sign that her body is undergoing certain changes. There will be a gain in overall weight. This mostly happens due to the increase in the bone density. Also at the same time early puberty in girls will cause them to start menstruating early. This indeed comes as a pain as young girls of 7 to 8 years are not mentally prepared to handle the trauma and physical pain of menstruation. (Schreck, 2007)

Early Puberty Signs in Boys

Boys also undergo very visible early puberty signs. The size of the testicles, penis, along with the scrotum increases in a very short period of time. This sudden increase has its mental and emotional impact on your child.

He would not be able to cope with the gush of hormonal flows and that will confuse him a lot. Along with the increase in the size of the testicles, the impact of the puberty will also make your son’s voice hoarse.

The change is in fact so sudden that your son might experience a mix of both horse and soft voice thereby putting him in an awkward situation. Again this change has its emotional toll on the youngster.

Causes of Early Puberty

Early puberties are often the result of the issues pertaining to the central nervous system. Usually it happens due to some medical problems. The medical problems trigger the flow of hormones at an early age and that cause the puberty to arrive earlier than scheduled.

The following are the list of major causes which cause early puberty in children:

  • Tumors or any other kind of benign growths which are undetected for a long time.
  • A previous injury to the brain often causes the hormone to rush quickly. It might be a surgical injury or a blow to the head. This kind of injuries often causes hormonal misbalance and early puberty is often a result of that.
  • Inflammation of the brain mostly caused by infection can also cause early puberty as a side-effect. (Deardorff, 2005)

Apart from the medical causes mentioned above there are also many other unknown causes which trigger puberty at an early age. Especially in girls the causes of early puberty is still undetected. In case of boys, however, the problems in the central processing system are often the cause of an early puberty.

Factors Related to Early Puberty

There are various factors which creates the perfect condition within the body of your child to cause early puberty.  Whilst some of them are controllable the others are totally out of your hands.

Gender: Gender is a major factor determining the possibility of early puberty of your child. It is being observed that girls are 10 times more likely to experience early puberty when compared to boys.

Genetics: Genetics also play a role in determining whether or not the child will undergo early puberty. Sometimes the sex hormones of the parents or the siblings decide whether or not that particular child will undergo early puberty.

Race and Ethnicity: Though the cause is unknown there are researches which show that the African-American girls are more likely to have early puberty when compared to boys of same race or any other children belonging to the other ethnic backgrounds. (Deardorff, 2005)

International Adoption: Again for reasons unknown children who are internationally adopted have been observed to experience early puberty when compared to children who are born and brought-up in the same country. It might sound outlandish but it is what the research suggests.

Obesity: Obesity has a major effect on the hormonal balance of your child. That is the reason why obese children are more likely to experience early puberty when compared to children who are of regular weight.

Apart from these there are also various other factors which lead to early puberty in children. Unfortunately many of these factors are yet to be discovered.

Consequences Faced due to Early Puberty

The consequences of early puberty are challenging for your child. He/she might face both physical and emotional pressure due to these sudden changes. Some of the changes can also lead to a lifelong impact. So, as a parent you need to be careful about that.

Short in Height

Whilst puberty is the push that all children need in order to grow, an early puberty often ensures the opposite. This is due to the fact that an early puberty often ends before its desired tenure thereby not giving enough growth spurts to your child.

So, once the puberty is gone your child stops to grow. Children suffering from early puberty are often short in structure when compared to the children having puberty in regular time.

Behavioral Problems

Children experiencing early puberty might undergo some behavioral problems and learning issues. The emotions fail to control the sudden rush in the hormone levels and that ultimately impacts the personality of your child. However, many children undergoing early puberty do not even undergo any behavioral problems. There are many cases where children with proper care and attention from the parents have developed fine.

Sexual Activation

Puberty does trigger some sexual hormones in your child. An early puberty might tempt your child to explore himself/herself sexually. This might be a problem if it is not carefully monitored. Sexually eager children can be victim of various forms of exploitations. That is why as a parent you have to carefully scan the signs and symptoms of early puberty. (Deardorff, 2005)

Stress

Puberty is itself very stressful when it happens during the right age. Early puberty is even more challenging. They feel awkward and left out as they start to look different from their friends and peers.

Especially in the case of the girls the early menstruations often unsettles the overall growth. Their mental development is also sometimes hindered. Parents can play a big part in this by educating their children from 7 or 8 years of age.

Other Risks

Research shows that there are also other risks associated with early puberty. The sudden increase in the hormone levels often disrupts the functions of some organs like heart and the kidney. The veins and the arteries are also challenged to some extent due to this sudden change in the system.

Tips for Parents to Remember

The fact is that neither the parents nor the doctors can do anything to stop early puberty. There is no real treatment as it itself is not a disease. However, be vigilant about the early signs of puberty and check with the doctor whenever you detect that.

If your doctor decides some treatment then make sure to undergo them. Otherwise, educate your child about the changes his/her body might undergo and assure your kid that these are normal changes which every one of his/her peers will experience sooner or later. Do not allow your child to feel isolated and ignored and instead encourage your child to speak about the issues he/he is facing. Help your child to cope with the problems. You definitely cannot do much about the bodily changes however you can make sure that his/her mental state remains intact.

Reference:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022427807305851

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/6/1451.short

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