What is central precocious puberty (CPP)?
“Precocious” means developing unusually early1,2
Every child’s growth and development is as unique as they are. That means they will each go through puberty at a different time. On average, most girls start around age 10 (between 8 and 13 years in girls) and most boys start around age 11 (between 9 and 14 years in boys). This is what is considered “normal.”
If your child shows premature puberty—before the age of 8 in girls and age 9 in boys—it’s considered precocious.
Central precocious puberty3
The most common type of precocious puberty is known as central precocious puberty Central precocious puberty (“CPP” for short): a condition in which children begin puberty at an abnormally early age (before age 8 in girls and before age 9 in boys). It’s caused by the early release of hormones by the pituitary gland near the base of the brain(sometimes shortened to just “precocious puberty” or “CPP”). CPP is triggered by the early release of hormones from the brain that are responsible for puberty. This type of precocious puberty is referred to as “central” because the brain is part of the central nervous system.
Only a qualified healthcare provider will be able to diagnose central precocious puberty.
Some common facts about CPP4
- It affects 1 in every 5,000 to 10,000 children
- It's up to 10 times more common in girls than boys
Remember that puberty is a part of normal development. Your child may be showing early signs, but it doesn’t mean he or she has CPP. However, if you are concerned about how early your child is beginning sexual development, it’s important to talk to your child’s doctor. He or she may suggest a bone age test. It’s an x-ray that can determine the age of your child’s bones and help make a diagnosis. If CPP is suspected, your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist for further testing.
The good news is CPP can be treated. Your child’s doctor will help determine if treatment is right for your child and, if so, will help find a treatment that is appropriate for them.
References: 1. Muir A. Precocious puberty. Pediatr Rev. 2006;27:373-381. 2. Carel JC, Léger J. Clinical practice. Precocious puberty. N Engl J Med. 2008;358(22):2366-2377. 3. Precocious puberty. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/precocious-puberty/DS00883. Accessed January 31, 2014. 4. Saenger P. Novel treatments seem promising for central precocious puberty. http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/pediatric-endocrinology/news/print/endocrine-today/%7Bbe447e73-0aab-417e-8ce4-4cb91d8f095d%7D/novel-treatments-seem-promising-for-central-precocious-puberty. Accessed January 31, 2014.