Puberty is considered early in boys if it occurs before the age of 9. Early puberty may also be called precocious puberty. The signs of puberty in boys include:
Early puberty may become a problem for a child. If it is not treated, early puberty can cause a boy to stop growing before reaching his expected height.
Often there is no apparent cause. Sometimes early puberty runs in the family or there may be something affecting the release of hormones in the brain. All boys with early puberty should be checked by their healthcare provider.
Your child's healthcare provider will examine your son and measure height, weight, and bone age. Your provider checks the bone age by doing a simple X-ray of the hand and wrist to measure of the body's overall bone maturity. Your provider will also ask about your family history of early puberty.
Depending on the results of these tests, your son may need a blood test to check his hormone levels. Sometimes, an MRI of the brain is done to check if anything is affecting the gland responsible for releasing hormones. A specialist, called a pediatric endocrinologist may need to see the results of the tests.
Treatment is needed if early puberty is likely to cause your son not to reach his expected height. Early puberty can often be stopped with a medicine called Lupron. This medicine mimics a natural hormone in the body and is given as a shot once per month. It has no known side effects, and once the shots are stopped, puberty begins again normally.
Your provider may want to see your son every 4 to 6 months to check on his growth.