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Early Puberty in Girls


What is early puberty?

Puberty is considered early in girls if it occurs before the age of 8. Early puberty may also be called precocious puberty. The signs of puberty in girls include breast development, the development of pubic hair, underarm hair, and a big growth spurt.

Is early puberty a problem?

Early puberty may become a problem for a child. If it is not treated, early puberty can cause a girl to stop growing before reaching her expected height.

What is the cause?

Usually, there is no apparent cause. Early puberty sometimes runs in the family.

How is precocious puberty diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your daughter and measure height, weight, and bone age. Your provider also checks the bone age by doing a simple X-ray of the hand and wrist to measure the body's overall bone maturity. Your provider will also ask about your family history of early puberty.

Your doctor may want to measure the level of hormones such as estrogen with a blood test.

What is the treatment?

Treatment is needed if early puberty is likely to cause your daughter not to reach her expected height or if it will cause your daughter to have a lot of trouble socially. Early puberty can often be stopped with a medicine called Lupron. This medicine mimics a natural hormone in the body and is given as a shot once per month. It has no known side effects, and once the shots are stopped, puberty begins again normally.

Your provider may want to see your daughter every 4 to 6 months to check her growth.


Written by Jill Simmons, MD.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-02-09
Last reviewed: 2010-12-29

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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