When Central Precocious Puberty Is Left Untreated

Central precocious puberty (CPP) causes children to mature sooner than other kids -- as young as 6 or 7 years old. Treatment can often stop or reverse these changes. But not every child with CPP needs to be treated.

Together, you and your child’s doctor will decide what’s best.

How Is CPP Treated?

Most of the time, no one’s sure why CPP happens. This is especially true in girls. In some cases, it’s due to an underlying condition. If this is the case, the condition that led to the CPP is treated.

If not, doctors often treat CPP by blocking the hormones that cause it. They use a drug called a GnRH. It’s given as a shot once every month, or once every 3 or 6 months. Another option is a small implant that works for a year.  You probably want to keep up treatment until your child’s old enough for puberty. Once the medicine is stopped, the puberty process begins again about 16 months later.

What Happens Without Treatment?

Shorter height. The main reason to treat CPP is to ensure your child reaches full adult height. Kids grow fast during puberty. At first, your child may seem like a giant compared to other kids. But this growth spurt stops too soon. Without treatment, your child might be shorter than normal as an adult.

The younger your child, the more likely they are to benefit from treatment. Girls with CPP who are age 6 or older might not need it. Even younger kids may not need treatment if their body and bones grow slowly.

Sometimes symptoms even slow down or stop on their own. So your doctor may hold off for a few months and wait to see what happens. If your child begins to grow faster or it seems they might be too short, it’s wouldn’t be too late to start treatment.

Social stress. Preteens are super sensitive about everything, including how they look to themselves and others. Some kids with CPP may have the same worries.

Young girls might be embarrassed about budding breasts. Boys may worry about body hair. And both can feel isolated and alone because they’re going through these changes sooner than their peers. They may also have a harder time with puberty because their brains just aren’t ready yet.

Teenage angst. The teen years can be an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes kids with CPP can be moody, scared, and angry, too. What they need most is love and patience. If your child’s really struggling, a therapist may help. Ask your doctor for a referral to someone who has experience treating kids with CPP.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 19, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Boston Children’s Hospital: “Treatment for Precocious (Early) Puberty in Children,” “Precocious Early Puberty.”

Journal of the Endocrine Society: “Treatment of Central Precocious Puberty.”

Medscape: “Precocious Puberty Prognosis,” “Precocious Puberty Treatment and Management.”

Paul Kaplowitz, MD, professor emeritus in the division of endocrinology, Children’s National Hospital, Washington, DC.

Frank Gaskill, PhD, psychologist at Southeast Psych, Charlotte, North Carolina.

American Psychological Association: “The risks of earlier puberty.”

Hormone Research in Paediatrics: "One-Year Follow-Up of Girls with Precocious Puberty and Their Mothers: Do Psychological Assessments Change over Time or with Treatment?"

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