This retrospective study aimed to evaluate children observed for suspected precocious puberty in five Italian centers of Pediatric Endocrinology during the first wave of coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (March–September 2020), compared to subjects observed in the same period of the previous year.
The study population (490 children) was divided according to the year of observation and final diagnosis: transient thelarche, non-progressive precocious puberty, central precocious puberty (CPP), or early puberty.
Between March and September 2020, 338 subjects were referred for suspected precocious puberty, compared to 152 subjects in the same period of 2019 (+122%). The increase was observed in girls (328 subjects in 2020 vs 140 in 2019, P < 0.05), especially during the second half of the period considered (92 girls from March to May vs 236 girls from June to September); while no difference was observed in boys (10 subjects in 2020 vs 12 in 2019). The percentage of girls with confirmed CPP was higher in 2020, compared to 2019 (135/328 girls (41%) vs 37/140 (26%), P < 0.01). Anthropometric and hormonal parameters in 2019 and 2020 CPP girls were not different; 2020 CPP girls showed more prolonged use of electronic devices and a more sedentary lifestyle both before and during the pandemic, compared to the rest of the 2020 population.
The present findings corroborate the recently reported association between the complex lifestyle changes related to the lockdown and a higher incidence of CPP in Italian girls.