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


Bone age X-ray: an X-ray of the left hand and wrist that helps evaluate how a child’s skeleton is maturing compared with their chronological age. This is typically done to help doctors diagnose conditions that delay or accelerate growth


Central precocious puberty (CPP): 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 from the brain

Chronological age: a person’s age measured from the time of birth

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

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): 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 size 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 examples, see Follicle-stimulating hormone and Luteinizing hormone

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


Idiopathic: when the cause of a disease is not known


LH: see Luteinizing hormone

Luteinizing hormone (LH): in females, it controls the menstrual cycle, including the production of both estrogen and progesterone. In males, it stimulates the testes to produce androgens


Ovaries: the pair of reproductive glands in women. They are located on each side of the uterus. Ovaries produce eggs (ova) 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 is not caused by the involvement of the GnRH hormone in the brain that normally triggers the start of puberty. It’s caused by the induction of sex steroids from abnormal sources, such as a tumor or exposure to external sources of estrogen or testosterone, such as creams or ointments

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 bud development in girls, or a voice change in boys


Rapid bone maturation: when bone growth occurs at an increased rate


Screening: a test or check to determine whether an individual has a specific disease or medical condition

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


Testosterone: a male sex hormone made by the testicles in boys. It’s also present in girls, but in smaller amounts. 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

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