If your child has central precocious puberty—a treatable condition that causes the puberty-inducing hormone to be released too soon—you may have questions about some of the terminology your pediatrician or pediatric endocrinologist uses. We’ve assembled this list of commonly used CPP terms to boost your understanding and help you better advocate for your little one.
The ABCs of CPP
Adolescence: The phase of life during which children transition into adults.
Androgen: A male sex hormone (like testosterone, for example).
Bone age X-ray: An X-ray of the left hand/wrist that helps determine how a patient’s skeleton is maturing compared to their chronological age.
Breast bud: When the breast develops into a small mound and areola diameter increases, signifying puberty.
Central precocious puberty (CPP): A rare, treatable condition where the brain releases the puberty-inducing hormone (GnRH) too soon. This results in puberty before the age of eight in girls and nine in boys.
Estrogen: The sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of feminine body characteristics and the female reproductive system.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A hormone secreted by the brain’s pituitary gland that controls menstrual cycles and egg formation in females and promotes the production of sperm in males. FSH release is triggered by GnRH.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH): A hormone that, when secreted from the brain’s pituitary gland, triggers the release of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, causing puberty.
Gonadarche: The first instance of gonadal puberty symptoms, which entails the development of ovaries and increased estradiol production in females, and the development of testes and testosterone in males.
Histrelin: A GnRH agonist that treats CPP by suppressing the release of gonadotropin hormones, pausing puberty.
Hormone: Chemical substances in the body that serve as messenger molecules, telling other cells and organs how to function.
Hypothalamus: The region of the brain (beneath the thalamus) that coordinates the pituitary gland, controlling sexual development and basic body functions.
Idiopathic: When the cause of a medical condition is unknown, as is often the case with CPP.
Leuprolide acetate: A drug used to block the release of GnRH, and subsequently pause puberty.
Luteinizing hormone: A hormone secreted by the brain’s pituitary gland that stimulates ovulation in females and androgen development in males. Luteinizing hormone is triggered by GnRH.
Menarche: A girl’s first occurrence of menstruation.
Pediatric Endocrinologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children with endocrine conditions such as diabetes, growth disorders, and precocious puberty.
Peripheral precocious puberty (aka precocious pseudopuberty): One of two types of precocious puberty, occurring due to the excess production of estrogen or testosterone.
Pituitary gland: A pea-sized gland in the base of the brain that helps control the growth and function of other endocrine glands.
Pubarche: The first appearance of pubic hair at the start of puberty.
Sex hormone: A hormone that affects the growth and/or function of the reproductive organs, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Testosterone: The sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of masculine body characteristics and the male reproductive system.
Triptorelin: A type of GnRH agonist that treats CPP by blocking the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone, pausing puberty.
We hope this glossary helps you feel more confident understanding and communicating about CPP. After all, the better you know your CPP terminology, the better you can support your child!