A new study, conducted by a team of researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, shed light on how gene mutation may play a role in causing precocious puberty.
Precocious puberty, simply put as premature puberty, usually occurs in kids having a family history of precocious puberty.
Advertisement"These findings will open the door for a new understanding of what controls the timing of puberty," Dr Ursula Kaiser, co-senior study author, explained. "It also will allow doctors to diagnose the cause of precocious puberty in a subset of patients, or to identify patients at risk for developing precocious puberty, especially if others in their family are affected."
Using whole-exome sequencing of 40 individuals from 15 different families, the researchers identified mutation in the MKRN3 gene, which caused production of hormones associated with puberty.
Usually, young boys and girls hit their puberty at 15 and 12 respectively; however, due to precocious puberty, they may start displaying signs associated with puberty as early as 9-10 years.
"Although the finding of a genetic cause for central precocious puberty is a significant contribution to further understanding human puberty, an explanation of why puberty starts at about the time of the junction of the first and second decades of human life has yet to be had," Professor Leuan Hughes, commented.
Researchers also suggest that the gene mutation may be just one factor affecting precocious puberty; several other factors including environmental causes, chemical exposure, and more, could increase the risk of precocious puberty in kids considerably.
A cause of concern is that precocious puberty is getting more and more common with the passage of time, which further emphasizes the need for more such researches to be carried out.
This study is published in New England Journal of Medicine.