Early secretion (also called hypersecretion) of high levels of the body's sex hormones, androgen (male sex hormones) and estrogen (female sex hormones), can lead to the early outward appearance of puberty. Sometimes called pseudoprecocious puberty, this form of early puberty is characterized by the development of most secondary sexual characteristics, although the sexual glands remain undeveloped.
The production of high levels of sex hormones in the young child forces the onset of puberty characteristics.
The following are the most common symptoms of gonadotropin-independent precocious puberty. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Although the sexual glands themselves remain immature, hypersecretion of androgen and estrogen cause the development of most other secondary sexual characteristics. Symptoms may include:
Facial, underarm, and pubic hair growth
Lengthening of penis and enlarging of testicles
Appearance becomes more masculine
Changes in body odor
The symptoms of gonadotropin-independent precocious puberty may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnosis of gonadotropin-independent precocious puberty may include:
X-ray. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film. X-ray of the left hand and wrist bone can determine bone age, which is advanced in precocity (exceptionally early or premature development) as compared to chronologic age (age from birth date).
Measurement of blood hormone levels
Ultrasound (also called sonography) of the ovaries, testicles, and adrenal glands and pelvis. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses magnets to produce detailed images of the body's internal structures.
Specific treatment for gonadotropin-independent precocious will be determined by your child's doctor based on:
Your child's general health status and medical history
Severity of the symptoms
Your child's ability to tolerate medical procedures and take prescribed medications
Projected development of the condition
Your desires regarding treatment
The goal of treatment for the hypersecretion of androgen and estrogen is to stop, and possibly reverse, the onset of early puberty symptoms. Treatment may include the use of certain medications that inhibit the action of the sex hormones. If a tumor is causing the disorder, surgical removal may be necessary.