Precocious puberty pathophysiology

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]



Early sexual development deserves evaluation because it may:

  • Induce early bone maturation and reduce eventual adult height,
  • Cause significant social problems (such as the child becoming an object of sexual attraction, even pedophilia) or
  • Indicate the presence of a tumor or other serious problem.

High levels of beta-hCG in serum and cerebrospinal fluid observed in a 9-year old boy suggest a pineal gland tumor. The tumor is called a chronic gonadotropin secreting pineal tumor. Radiography and chemotherapy reduced tumor and beta-hCG levels normalized.[1]

Bones can be considered older in individuals with early puberty beyond actual age of individual. Early puberty is marked by growth hormone problems resulting from various brain disorders.

Medical evaluation is sometimes necessary to recognize the few children with serious conditions from the majority who have entered puberty early but are still medically normal.

Girls who are obese are more likely to physically mature earlier. Precocious puberty can make a child able to conceive when very young. Both sexes have become parents before age 10. The youngest mother on record is Lina Medina, who gave birth at the age of 5 years, 7 months and 21 days. An 8 year old boy had early puberty caused by a malignant intracranial germ cell tumor. [2]

The role of the pineal gland in reproduction of other species of vertebrate suggest that the pineal gland does have significance in development and function of human reproductive axis.[3] In a study using neonatal melatonin on rats, results suggest that elevated melatonin could be responsible for some cases of early puberty.[4]


  1. Kuo H, Sheen J, Wu K, Wei H, Hsiao C. "Precocious puberty due to human chorionic gonadotropin-secreting pineal tumor". Chang Gung Med J. 29 (2): 198–202. PMID 16767969.
  2. Massie R, Shaw P, Burgess M (1993). "Intracranial choriocarcinoma causing precocious puberty and cured with combined modality therapy". J Paediatr Child Health. 29 (6): 464–7. PMID 8286166.
  3. Cavallo A (1993). "Melatonin and human puberty: current perspectives". J Pineal Res. 15 (3): 115–21. PMID 8106956.
  4. Esquifino A, Villanúa M, Agrasal C (1987). "Effect of neonatal melatonin administration on sexual development in the rat". J Steroid Biochem. 27 (4–6): 1089–93. PMID 3121932.(4-6):1089-93

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