Age, treatment, prevention … 7 things to know about precocious puberty

It is a phenomenon whose origins are not “yet completely clear”, but which seems to multiply: precocious puberty. Guest of “Sans Rendez-vous” on Europe 1, the Parisian pediatrician endocrinologist Isabelle Flechtner takes stock of this pathology which is characterized, like a “normal” puberty, by “a breast growth in girls and testicular enlargement in women. boys “. A disease that affects little girls ten times more.

When do we start talking about precocious puberty?

The “first sign of puberty considered completely normal occurs from the age of 9 in girls and 11 in boys, recalls the specialist. But some children get ahead. Thus, precocious puberty is characterized by the arrival the first signs of hormonal changes before 8 years old in little girls and before 9 years old in boys. Although few quantitative studies exist on the subject, a survey carried out on 2,000 children shows that 5% of girls under 8 years old would have had breast development.

More and more cases of precocious puberty

In 2014, Isabelle Flechtner already warned about the increase in the number of cases of precocious puberty. A phenomenon which “is not yet completely clear”: “there are genetic factors and certainly environmental factors with endocrine disruptors which are certainly responsible for that” suggests the specialist. But one thing is certain, “in the Paleolithic, the onset of menstruation was estimated to be between 7 and 12 years. It rose to 19 in the 19th century. Now, now, it is 12 years”.

The pediatrician endocrinologist still noticed a “typical profile” of children with precocious puberty. They are “often little girls who grow up quickly and early, and who tend to gain weight”.

There are “false” early puberty

While puberty is characterized by breast flare in young girls, not all flare-ups are a sign of puberty. “When the ovaries start working, it makes little balls in the breasts, like little olives that you can feel with a palpation. This is how we know if the mammary gland is starting to sag. form.” However, it happens that a little girl suffers a temporary attack that is not related to puberty. This is why Isabelle Flechtner always lets “two or three months” pass before a first consultation.

Precocious puberty can be indicative of a disease …

In a “small percentage” of cases, precocious puberty may be indicative of another pathology. This is why examinations are carried out, especially on the ovaries, to see if everything is normal. On the other hand, “if puberty begins around 6 years old for boys, there is a high risk of pathology behind”.

… and cause growth problems

As the body of the child with precocious puberty is ahead of his age, the patient will grow very quickly, but also stop very early. “He is the tallest of the class but will finish growing up at 10 years old”, details at the microphone of Europe 1 Isabelle Flechtner. If no treatment is taken, precocious puberty therefore has consequences for height in adulthood.

A treatment to “block the hormonal cascade of puberty”

A treatment was developed many years ago, enough so that some little girls who have benefited from it are no longer of childbearing age, says the specialist. This hormonal drug by intramuscular injection will “block the hormonal cascade of puberty”. The latter lasts until the child has reached an age considered normal to have puberty.

Lavender essential oil and cannabis could lead to breast flare ups

If the mechanism behind the onset of precocious puberty is poorly understood, Isabelle Flechtner argues that essential oils or lavender anti-lice shampoos “can lead to breast flares”. “It’s a small percentage, but we have children who have had breast thrusts [après les avoir utilisés]. These are not real precocious puberty, but in the long term it can not have an effect? ​​”Caution being a safe mother, the pediatric endocrinologist” therefore strongly advises against their use for children “.

Likewise, as cannabis also contains “phytoestrogens which can bind to the mammary glands”, its consumption “can lead to breast growth”.

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