Premature Adrenarche

Arch Dis Child. 2012 Mar;97(3):250-4. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2011-300011. Epub 2011 Aug 11.


Premature adrenarche refers to the presence of secondary sexual hair in girls younger than 8 years old and boys younger than 9 years old. It is a relatively common presentation to paediatricians and is more frequent in girls than boys. It is a benign diagnosis, but other causes of androgen excess such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or adrenal tumours should be excluded first. In conjunction with history and clinical examination, first line investigations should include determination of serum androgen concentrations, along with bone age, proceeding to synacthen stimulation test (for 17OHP levels) and adrenal ultrasound if indicated. The phenotype of premature adrenarche varies considerably between populations but may be associated with low birth weight, insulin resistance, adverse cardio-metabolic risk and progression to polycystic ovarian syndrome in some populations. In the majority of cases, no specific treatment is recommended, but where there is a history of low birth weight, with associated insulin resistance, intervention with the insulin sensitising agent metformin may be considered on a case by case basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenarche / physiology*
  • Algorithms
  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / etiology
  • Puberty, Precocious / complications
  • Puberty, Precocious / diagnosis*
  • Puberty, Precocious / genetics