Glossary of Terms1


Adolescence: the period of life in which the transition from childhood to adulthood occurs


Bone age x-ray: an x-ray of the non-dominant wrist and hand that helps evaluate how a child’s skeleton is maturing. This is typically done to help doctors diagnose conditions that delay or accelerate growth


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

Chronological age: a person’s actual age, expressed in years and months

CPP: see Central precocious puberty


Estrogen: a "female" sex hormone that causes the development of female sexual characteristics and affects the reproductive cycle in women


Fertility: the ability to produce offspring

FSH: see Follicle-stimulating hormone

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): a hormone that stimulates the growth of follicles in the ovary and produces sperm in the testes

FSH: see Follicle-stimulating hormone


Genitals: reproductive or sexual organs

GnRH: see Gonadotropin-releasing hormone

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH for short): a hormone made by the hypothalamus (part of the brain) that causes the pituitary gland to produce two hormones, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

Growth chart: a standardized chart used to measure a child’s growth rate in comparison to other children of the same age and sex

Growth rate: the rate of increase in growth for a set amount of time


Hormone: a substance produced by the body that travels through the blood to affect another part of the body. Hormones can influence a range of effects. For example, they can make the heart beat faster, change your mood, or tell your body to grow

Hypothalamus: a small area at the base of the brain. Produces hormones that travel to the pituitary gland to regulate basic functions necessary for life, including body temperature, hunger, moods, sleep, and the production of sex hormones


LH: see Luteinizing hormone

Luteinizing hormone (LH for short): a hormone that controls the female menstrual cycle, including the production of both estrogen and progesterone. In males, it stimulates the testes to produce androgen


Ovaries: the pair of reproductive glands in women. They are located on each side of the uterus. Ovaries produce eggs (ovum) and female hormones


Pediatric endocrinologist: a specialist that treats a wide range of hormonal conditions in children

Peripheral precocious puberty (PPP): a condition where children begin puberty at an abnormally early age (before age 8 in girls and before age 9 in boys). It’s caused by the induction of sex steroids from abnormal sources, such as a tumor or a reaction to certain medicines

Pituitary gland: also known as the "Master Gland," it is a pea-sized endocrine gland located at the base of the brain. It’s the gland that helps control the release of all hormones

Polycystic ovary syndrome: a hormone imbalance that can cause changes in the menstrual cycle, skin changes, small cysts on the ovaries, and trouble getting pregnant

PPP: see Peripheral precocious puberty

Precocious: unusually advanced or early in development

Puberty: the period of time when children rapidly change biologically, physically, and psychologically. The signs and symptoms of puberty are growth spurts, pubic hair, acne, breast development in girls, or a voice change in boys


Rapid bone maturation: when the bone age occurs at an increased rate


Screening: a test or check of a certain area of the body

Sex hormone: a hormone, such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and androgen, that affects the growth or function of the reproductive organs and sex behavior


Testosterone: a sex hormone that is made in the body by testes in males and (in small amounts) ovaries in females. Testosterone is responsible for producing masculine secondary sex characteristics such as growth of body hair, deepening of voice, and the development of the male reproductive system

Reference: 1. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2011.