In Denmark precocious puberty is traditionally defined by signs of puberty before age 8 in girls and age 9 for boys. Timely recognition of the condition can curb puberty medically (with GNRH agonist treatment), and thereby ease the psychological problems, and achieve a greater final height.
The Department of Growth and Reproduction finished in 2009 a large cross-sectional cohort study on puberty in Danish children (The COPENHAGEN Puberty Study). Here it was shown that Danish girls enter puberty one year earlier today than they did in the same Copenhagen area just 15 years ago (see figure below). The reason for this change is unknown, and apparently cannot be explained by a change in BMI. Currently, a large subgroup of the children is followed up longitudinally, with detailed clinical investigations focusing on metabolic aspects in addition to pubertal development.
Ongoing projects in the department focus on investigating possible explanations for these dramatic changes.
Some of the changes may occur via epigenetic mechanisms. Learn more in our (Danish) article on Videnskab.dk's Forskerzonen.
The probability of breast development (B2) according to age (in years) in Danish girls from the Copenhagen area investigated in, respectively, 1991-1993 and 2006-2008.