Precocious Puberty in Girls: Early Signs, Causes, Side Effects & Treatment


Puberty is defined when kids develop physically and emotionally into young men and women which starts to happen in adolescence with an average age of 10 and 11 in girls and boys respectively. Precocious puberty in girls is defined as pubertal changes appearing before the age of eight years and is becoming increasingly common nowadays. Puberty is the rapid growth of bones and muscles, changes in body shape and size and development of the body’s ability to reproduce. Girls are much more likely to develop precocious puberty as compared to boys.

In this article:

Signs and Symptoms of Precocious Puberty in Girls
Causes of Precocious Puberty in Girls
Side Effects of Precocious Puberty in Girls
Diagnosis of Precocious Puberty in Girls
Treatment for Precocious Puberty in Girls
Prevention of Precocious Puberty in Girls

All You Need to Know About Precocious Puberty in Girls

Signs and Symptoms of Precocious Puberty in Girls

Precocious puberty signs and symptoms include the development before age 8 years in girls is as follows –

  • Breast growth
  • First period in girls
  • Pubic, underarm or facial hair development
  • Voice deepening
  • Rapid growth
  • Acne
  • Adult body odor

Consult the doctor for an evaluation if the child has any of the signs and symptoms of precocious puberty.


precocious puberty in girls

Causes of Precocious Puberty in Girls

To understand what causes precocious puberty in some girls, it’s helpful to know what causes puberty to begin. The brain starts the process with the production of a hormone known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), when this hormone reaches the pituitary gland a small bean-shaped gland at the base of the brain which leads to the production of more hormones in the ovaries for females (estrogen) and the testicle for males (testosterone).

Estrogen is involved in the growth and development of female sexual characteristics and testosterone is responsible for the growth and development of male sexual characteristics.

Why this process begins early in some girls depends on whether they have central precocious puberty or peripheral precocious puberty.

Central Precocious Puberty

The cause of this type often can’t be identified. In this, the puberty starts too soon. The pattern and timing of the steps in the process are otherwise normal and for the majority of the girls with this condition, there’s no underlying medical problem and no identifiable reason for early puberty. In rare cases, it may be caused by –

  • Tumor in the brain or spinal cord (central nervous system)
  • Defect in the brain present at birth, like excess fluid buildup (hydrocephalus) or a noncancerous tumor (hamartoma)
  • Radiation to the brain or spinal cord
  • Injury to the brain or spinal cord
  • McCune-Albright syndrome a rare genetic disease that affects bones and skin colour and causes hormonal problems
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia a group of genetic disorders involving abnormal hormone production by the adrenal glands
  • Hypothyroidism a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones

Peripheral Precocious Puberty

Estrogen in the girl’s body causes this type. The less common peripheral precocious puberty occurs without the involvement of the hormone in the brain (GnRH) that normally triggers the start of puberty. Instead, the cause is the release of estrogen into the body because of problems with the ovaries, adrenal glands or pituitary gland. In girls, the following may lead to this –

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ovarian tumors
  • Tumor in the adrenal glands or in the pituitary gland that releases estrogen
  • McCune-Albright syndrome
  • Exposure to external sources of estrogen such as creams or ointment

Side Effects of Precocious Puberty in Girls

Short Height

A girl with precocious puberty may grow quickly at first and be tall but because their bones mature more quickly than normal, they often stop growing earlier than usual. This can cause them to be shorter as compared to average as adults. Early treatment of precocious puberty, especially when it occurs in a very young girl, can help them grow taller than they would without treatment.

Social and Emotional Problems

Girls who begin puberty long before their peers may be extremely self-conscious about the changes occurring in their bodies and be worried to face them. Because of this their self-esteem gets affected and increases the risk of depression or substance abuse.

Diagnosis of Precocious Puberty in Girls

  • Review the girl’s and family’s medical history
  • Do a physical examination
  • Run blood tests to measure hormone levels

X-ray of girl’s hand and wrist also are important for diagnosing precocious puberty. These X-rays can help the doctor determine the girl’s bone age, which shows if the bones are growing too quickly.



The primary goal of treatment is to enable the girl to grow to a normal adult height. Treatment of precocious puberty depends on the cause. However, in some cases, there is no identifiable cause for this. In this instance, the girl may not need treatment depending on her age and how rapidly puberty is progressing. The girl’s doctor may want to monitor the girl for several months to see how she is developing.

Girl with central precocious puberty, in which there’s no underlying medical condition, can be effectively treated with medication. This treatment, called GnRH analogue therapy, usually includes a monthly injection of a medication such as leuprolide acetate (Lupron Depot) or triptorelin (Trelstar) which delays further development. This medication continues until she reaches the normal age of puberty.

Another treatment option is a histrelin implant (Vantas) which lasts for up to a year. This treatment is effective for central precocious puberty without the pain and inconvenience of regular injections and also it does require a minor surgical procedure to be done.

Prevention of Precocious Puberty in Girls

  • Keeping the girl away from external sources of estrogen such as prescription medications for adults in the house or dietary supplements containing estrogen.
  • Encouraging the girl to maintain a healthy weight.



Start by seeing a girl’s pediatrician or may be referred immediately to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of hormone-related conditions in a girl.