Growth and Development

Why Does Puberty Sometimes Happen Early?

My 6-year-old daughter is undergoing tests at our local hospital to see if she's in puberty. How can this be happening so early?
- Joy

Puberty, the time when kids develop physically and emotionally into young adults, usually begins around 8 to 15 years of age. But for some kids it can happen much earlier. The medical term for this early development is precocious puberty.

Precocious puberty might be the result of a problem in the brain or a hormonal imbalance, but more often there's no specific underlying health issue. Some kids just have an early timer.

A doctor who specializes in early puberty can help distinguish between normal early development and a medical issue, and can help with treatment if it is needed.

Going through puberty early can be difficult on any child emotionally and socially, but can be even more difficult if that child is too young to understand what's happening. Give your daughter a simple, truthful explanation about what's happening, and keep her informed about what can be expected along the way.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012

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