Puberty usually starts between ages 8 and 13 for girls and 9 and 14 for boys, when the brain begins releasing “pulses” of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). If puberty starts earlier than the expected age range, it’s called “precocious puberty.” The most common type of precocious puberty is central precocious puberty, or CPP. In children with CPP, the brain begins to release pulses of GnRH, the puberty-inducing hormone, as early as age 2. Doctors diagnose CPP when signs of puberty are seen in girls younger than 8 or boys younger than 9.
CPP is treatable, and it is not a lifelong condition. For most children diagnosed with CPP, no underlying medical problem caused it.
CPP is rare. It affects about one in 5,000 to 10,000 children.
CPP can affect children as early as age 2. Doctors diagnose CPP when signs of puberty are seen in girls younger than 8 or boys younger than 9. Treatments for CPP are indicated after the age of 2, and they conclude when your doctor has determined that your child is ready to start experiencing puberty, often around age 8 or 9.
CPP can be treated by administering medicine that prevents the brain from releasing GnRH. When it’s time for normal puberty to start, your child’s doctor can simply stop treatment.
Why is it important to treat CPP?
Your doctor may decide that your child’s CPP is important to treat because untreated CPP can lead to a shorter adult height and emotional challenges as your child develops. For some children, choosing not to treat may be the appropriate option. When making this decision, it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor. If after consideration your doctor recommends treatment, there are a few reasons why this would be important. Treatment options are designed to reduce hormone levels so your little one can stay little until it’s time for puberty.
What are my options?
Treatment options for CPP vary in dosing schedule and method of administration. CPP treatments are administered every month, every three months, twice per year, or annually. For some patients, treatment is surgically implanted once a year. Of these timing options, treatments are either injected just below the skin (subcutaneous) or directly into the muscle (intramuscular); or treatment can be surgically implanted and later removed or replaced. You and your pediatric endocrinologist can decide on the best treatment plan for your family.
There are several treatment options that are proven effective for CPP, and unlike experiences with other diseases, caregivers and parents can play a large role in making the treatment decision for CPP.