Puberty is the developmental process children go through that marks the change from childhood to sexual maturity. The timing of puberty is slightly different for boys and girls, and the changes they see and experience in their bodies may vary between people.
When does puberty start?
Two very common questions are “Is my child too young to be starting puberty?” and “Why hasn’t puberty started yet?“
Typically the onset of puberty occurs between the ages of 8 and 13 years for girls, and 9 and 14 years for boys. Outside of these ages, talk to your GP about what is happening, and whether a referral to a paediatric endocrinologist might be helpful.
What causes early or late puberty?
The timing of puberty can be affected by many factors including family history, nutrition, chronic illness, genetics, medications, and body weight. Investigating the possible reasons why your child’s puberty has unusual timing is important, as it may be a clue to another medical issue, and can impact their growth, final height, and potential fertility.
Can anything be done about early or late puberty?
At QPE we meet many young people with early or late puberty; we will often ask for some blood tests and a hand x-ray to help work out where your child is up to with their growth and pubertal development.
Once we've made an assessment there are treatments available where appropriate to either slow down early (precocious) puberty, or to help kick start delayed puberty.
Our paediatric endocrinologists are very experienced in talking with children and families about what is going on in their bodies, and are happy to talk through with you and your family about what might be right for your child. Our generous appointment length allows for plenty of time for discussion and questions.
How is puberty different for different people?
For some young people the physical, social, and emotional changes that happen around the time of puberty can be tough. These changes don’t happen at the same time, or in the same order, for everyone. Some variations in puberty we see at Queensland Paediatric Endocrinology include:
Early breast development (thelarche)
Primary and secondary amenorrhoea (absent periods)
Infrequent or irregular periods
Every now and then, the reason for a young person to have a different pattern of puberty is due to an underlying genetic condition, such as