How could my cousin show signs of changing before puberty?

Last updated on March 24, 2023


When I was 8, my 7-year-old cousin was about an inch shorter than me. When we were 10 and 9, he was about 3-4 inches taller than me, so he must have had a growth spurt. However, he was not in puberty at this time. How is this possible? I know that younger children do have little growth spurts, but I don’t think children that age usually have growth spurts. He also had body odor and a little bit of acne at this time. He told me he hit puberty at 10, so I’m a bit confused about how he could have all of those symptoms before starting puberty.


The problem is the definition that people use for puberty. The medical definition is the first signs of physical change from childhood to adulthood. For boys, this is using a swelling of the scrotum, which is often overlooked. Thus, many people say they hit puberty when they first notice things are different, such as getting pubic hair or having a major growth spurt. Others don’t count puberty until they have had an ejaculation.

It sounds like between ages 7 and 9, your cousin grew between 5 and 7 inches. Typically, after the age of 5, most children grow 1 to 2.5 inches per year until they reach stage 3 in development. Your cousin was on the high end of that growth with an average of 2.5 to 3.5 inches per year over the two years.

The earliest boys should start puberty (the swelling of the scrotum) is age nine. Anything earlier than that is considered precocious. My guess is that he started early (like around the age of 8).


Thanks for the information!