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Clue is on a mission to help you understand your body, periods, ovulation, and so much more. Start tracking today. Puberty happens in stages. As your hormones change, so does your body.

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Children with s of puberty like pubic hair or breast growth at an early age usually aren't experiencing "precocious" puberty.

Understanding puberty

But most of the time it's nothing to worry about, says a new report from a leading group of U. It's not uncommon for young children to show certain traits associated with puberty, including some pubic hair, underarm hair and the beginnings of breast development, said Dr. Paul Kaplowitz, who led the American Academy of Pediatrics report. He said early s of sexual maturation are one of the most common reasons that children are referred to pediatric endocrinologists—specialists in treating hormone-related disorders.

But the vast majority of those kids do not have so-called "precocious puberty," said Kaplowitz, an endocrinologist at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D. In general, precocious puberty is defined as puberty that sets in abnormally early—before age 8 for girls or age 9 for boys. But children can have certain s of early sexual maturation that are not truly precocious puberty, Kaplowitz said.

In "true puberty," a brain area called the hypothalamus sets off a hormonal cascade that triggers the production of estrogen and testosterone, which then triggers breast growth in girls and testicular enlargement in boys, said Dr. But there's also a secondary component to puberty called "adrenarche," said Kohn, who was not involved in the academy report.

During adrenarche, the adrenal glands, which sit on the kidneys, begin to churn out weak "male" hormones. That, in turn, can cause kids to develop some pubic hair, underarm hair and body odor. Those adrenal-related changes can happen in the absence of "true" puberty, Kohn explained. And that, she said, "is a variant of normal growth.

When your child is close to puberty

Kaplowitz said, "It's not at all unusual to see early pubic hair development," noting it even happens in infants. While parents often find that alarming, Kaplowitz said, it is usually benign—especially if the child is showing no genital enlargement, and body growth is on a normal pace.

And while breast development is a of true puberty, it's not always clear-cut. With the rising rate of childhood obesity, more and more girls are being evaluated for what appears to be breast tissue, but is often excess body fat, according to the academy. The academy pointed to a few s that 's development might be out of the range of normal: testicular enlargement in a boy younger than 9 and progressive breast development in a girl younger than 8.

How to know when your period is going to start

Kohn said rapid growth in pubic hair or acne at a young age are also possible warning s. Another red flag is when children with breast or testicular growth are also shooting up in height, said Kaplowitz.

What causes precocious puberty? Most of the time, it's unexplained, Kohn said. In rare cases, a brain tumor is the cause, so children with true precocious puberty should have an MRI of the brain, she added.

What will i notice first?

One of the main concerns with precocious puberty is that children will be ificantly shorter than average as adults. That's because the rapid early development can cause the bones' growth plates to fuse too soon. Of course, some children can suffer emotionally when they develop much faster than their peers.

So 's emotional state should always be part of the evaluation, Kohn said. The good news is that most kids with some early s of puberty just have a variant of normal growth, said Kaplowitz.

He estimated that of the children he evaluates, only 10 percent have true precocious puberty. All rights reserved. This guide can help healthcare providers communicate better with patients about their uterine fibroid diagnosis and treatment options.

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The report appears in the Dec. The best advice for your health, weekly, in your inbox. Being Pregnant Was Wonderful. And Overwhelming.

Admitting that everything wasn't perfect helped me get the support I needed. Clinically Speaking: Talking to Patients About Uterine Fibroids This guide can help healthcare providers communicate better with patients about their uterine fibroid diagnosis and treatment options. You might be interested in. Trending Topics.