What you need to know about adrenarche, the surge in hormones before puberty


Your child has made it past the terrible twos and those subsequent “threenage” years, as well. Puberty is still years out. But, as a parent, you may start to notice that your child is acting uncharacteristically moody or short-tempered between the ages of 6 and 8. What gives? Why is your child’s temper flaring up between those toddler and teenage years?

As it turns out, there’s a lesser-known developmental phase known as adrenarche that can cause an upswing of hormones in kids around the time they’re in first or second grade. In an article for Parents, writer Catherine Ball relays how her cheerful, laid-back 7-year-old daughter was becoming angry. Her daughter’s teacher told her that the hormonal changes children go through during second grade are sometimes worse than puberty itself.

Surprisingly, as Ball points out, adrenarche isn’t talked about much. Also, there’s far less research about adrenarche compared to other developmental phases, such as puberty.

Knowing that your child is dealing with a surge in hormones, though, could help guide conversations you have with your child’s pediatrician or teachers. Plus, you can help your child better understand how to handle these mood swings, whether that’s through breathing exercises or even yoga routines, which are proven to help with mood regulation in children.

Here’s what parents should know about adrenarche, the lesser-known pre-puberty phase.

What Is Adrenarche And How Does It Differ From Puberty?

Adrenarche occurs prior to puberty, typically between ages 6 and 8, according to Patient, a U.K. health site that publishes physican-reviewed information on health topics. During this stage, hormones begin to increase — but this may go unnoticed in some kids, while others may experience changes like hair growth.

One study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health estimates that 16.1% of girls and 6.3% of boys will have definite indications of adrenarche by ages 8 or 9.

Still, it’s possible more children could be dealing with the surge in hormones, but not have physical signs like acne or body hair growth.


What Are The Signs Of Adrenarche?

Androgens produced from adrenal glands can cause a number of physical and emotional changes, according to Patient.

Some of those physical effects could include:

  • Pubic hair growth or armpit hair growth
  • Body odor
  • Comedonal acne (i.e. blackheads and whiteheads)
  • Mood swings and tearfulness

However, some children may experience several of these changes during adrenarche, while others may not experience any.

Does knowing about adrenarche help explain any mood changes you’ve seen in your children?

Family & Parenting, Health, News, Parenting

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About the Author
Brittany Anas
Hi, I'm Brittany Anas (pronounced like the spice, anise ... see, that wasn't too embarrassing to say, now was it?) My professional writing career started when I was in elementary school and my grandma paid me $1 for each story I wrote for her. I'm a former newspaper reporter, with more than a decade of experience Hula-hooping at planning meetings and covering just about every beat from higher-education to crime to science for the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Now, I'm a freelance writer, specializing in travel, health, food and adventure.

I've contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more.

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