Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Puberty is the product of Change

This is a stage in ones life that changes occur rapidly. Between early childhood and 8-9 years
of age the part of the brain that secretes the sex hormones are dormant. After this stage the hormones start to secrete and produce its effect. The onset of puberty is more related to skeletal maturity than to chronological age.

In girls, the breast bud is usually the first sign of puberty (10-11 year)
followed by the appearance of the pubic hair 6-12 months of age later and menarche will
follow between 2-2.5 years but may take as long as 6 years, In the United States the
peak age of menarche is 12.75 years old. There are however a wide variation in the stages
of development.

In boys, the first sign of puberty is testicular enlargement. Pubic hair then appears.
Growth acceleration in boys occur 2 years after the girls but can still continue till they are 18 years old. The pattern of sexual development follows parent's genetic pattern. If both parents develop early the chances that the children will also develop early is a highly likely.

What is considered pubertal delay?

  • no signs of pubertal development by age 14 years old, in girls
  • greater than 5 year interval between thelarche (breast development) and adrenarche (pubic and axillary hair development) in girls
  • no signs of testicular enlargement by age 14 years old
  • greater than 5 years for genital development
  • primary amenorrhea no menarche by 16 years old with presence of secondary sexual characteristics
  • primary amenorrhea no menarche by 14 years old without secondary sexual characteristics

What is defined as precocious puberty?

  • traditionally defined as any sign of secondary sexual maturation before 8 years old in girls and 9 year old in boys

**recent data suggest early puberty may not even warrant extensive work-up if it occurs after 6 years old in African American girls and after 7 years old in white girls**


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