Early Puberty in Girls
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Early Puberty in Girls
My 7 year-old daughter, who is of normal weight and in the
95th percentile for height, was seen recently by our
pediatrician for her regular check-up. The Dr. noticed early
signs of breast buds. My daughter has also been complaining
of pain in her breasts, but no other puberty signs are
present yet. So my Dr. ordered a wrist x-ray to determine
her bone age, which turned out to be 8years 4 months. The
Dr. has ordered blood work, which we will do soon. She also
referred me to a pediatric endocrinologist, whom we are
scheduled to see next month. Now I am very worried. I'd
love to hear from someone who has gone through this. Your
advice and input are much appreciated. The BPN database
only has advice from 1999.
My daughter started growing breasts at 3 and underwent all the tests. Other
getting her to comply, everything was fine. The endocrinologist was wonderful
and basically just talked to me about things to know and look out for. It went
away on its own but she did have me switch to organic milk and meat and talked
about no plastics in the dishwasher or microwave, no lavender or tea tree oil in
any products (soaps, shampoos), things like that. She basically just monitored
her progress and made sure she wasn't eating my birth control pills.
hope that helps.
Hi Worried Mom,
I, myself, struggled with a hormonal imbalance from too much
estrogen and seeing a Naturopath helped me tremendously in
identifying which food sources were contributing to this
problem (such as non-organic meats--containing growth
hormones, non-organic produce--containing pesticide residues
that mimic estrogens, and I also used to drink a lot of
non-organic milk--contains growth hormones).
Another possibility - Do you by any chance eat a lot of soy
products in your household? There have been studies that
link soy isoflavones (estrogen-like compounds) to pre-mature
puberty in children.
For more information, you can check out this article
published in 'Environmental Health News'
Says the article: ''Americans consume over $4 billion of soy
foods each year because of their many health benefits. But
new studies suggest that eating large amounts of soy's
estrogen-mimicking compounds might reduce fertility in
women, trigger early puberty and disrupt development of
fetuses and children. 'We know that too much genistein is
not a good thing for a developing mouse; it may not be a
good thing for a developing child,' said Retha Newbold of
the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.''
Hope this information might be helpful to you. I wish you &
your daughter the best of luck.
My daughter started showing signs of early puberty in the
second grade (8 years old). She was in the 75% for weight
and 85% for height. At first I noticed under arm odor, and
that it was the food she was eating. So I introduced more
vegetables, thinking the odor was coming from her colon. The
odor stopped for a little while but came back. Then she
started developing underarm hair and I took her to the
doctor. The really only suggested that girls are developing
earlier and earlier. Never offered a real solution. I
happened to be in Barnes and Noble one day and saw a
magazine that had an article about early puberty. It
alluded to the fact that the foods and products that we were
eating and using were packed full of hormones. Hair
products are included in the list. These were the culprits
causing early puberty. I immediately switched to using more
organic items (not completely). It didn't stop the hair
from growing, but have noticed a difference. I think I was
more concerned about my daughter starting her menstrual
cycle in elementary school. She will be 13 in July and is
on a ''normal'' track now. She hasn't started her period yet
and is just now wearing a bra. I hope this helps.
At age 7, my daughter started developing breast buds, body
odor, and she had an tremendous growth spurt. Now in 3rd
grade, she is the only girl her age with breast buds and she
is very self-conscious. (Surprisingly, the pediatrician
says this is in the normal range.) My question is: Has
anyone's daughter had this phenomenon? Other than a
camisole, do you have any suggestions for how I can help my
daughter handle this in the coming months and years? Many
My daughter was right along that same schedule. She's 9 now, and a bit
chubby, so the breast buds are even more prominent. I took her to Target and
we bought 3 training bras, sports ones, that she picked out. She wears them
some days, but usually doesn't. I don't bug her about it or mention it, and try
not to make her feel self-conscious. She likes ''baby doll'' or empire-waist style
shirts, which look cute with her little chest. Just answer questions she has, but
don't make a big deal out of it.
a Berkeley mom
Well, I can speak from experience--the same thing happened
to me when I was 8 years old. My mom took me out and bought
me a couple of training bras and made a big deal of it,
that she was proud of me, and I bought it hook, line, and
sinker. It doesn't have to be something that she has to
hide. Yes, some girls did tease me that I was wearing a
bra, but then I responded with the fact that at least I
needed one. Not the greatest response, but my mom made me
feel proud of my body. I was also taller than everyone else
too--my mom just spoke to my competitive side to encourage
me rather than make me feel like I had to fit in some way
or hide my bodily changes. My mom also educated me at that
time about getting my period, etc--just having that
information, basically, sex ed, made me feel more
comfortable with the changes in my body and more self aware.
Anyway, education, pride, those might be some things to
Early ''buds'' too
If you have not had your daughter's hand x-rayed or you have not had a
blood test please do not call it precocious puberty. It raises everyone's
When my daughter was 6 and in kindergarten we were in a hot tub in
Mendocino. I was floating her on her back and I saw a hair - thinking it was
mine that had floated onto her I started to pull it. She said, ''DO NOT PULL ON
MY BOTTOM HAIR - I asked God for them when I was 5 and I got them when I
was 6 - there's a God and I have four hairs of proof.'' She had breast buds,
now she had pubic hair - must be precocious puberty. NOT
We took her to her pediatrician (I called in advance to explain that my
daughter viewed the hairs as a covenant between her and God). The exam
was a couple of days later. The pediatrician explained to my daughter that
she was growing up and that while her body was perfect, sometimes bodies
speed like a car going down a hill very fast and that we should find out the
kind of body she had. She had an x-ray of her hand - the bones between the
adolescent fingers begin to spread to make way for rapid growth. We then
took her to a pediatric endocrinologist - sets of blood were sent to three
different labs specializing in children. All results came in the middle of the
average for a 6 year old.
She's now 10, no period, mood swings are starting and ''God continues to do
good work'' according to my daughter. My advice - get an x-ray of her hand
if you need to feel better.
Daughter with an unusual path to God
My daughter is about 8, in the second grade, and has started
puberty. I'm looking for advice that others have for girls who
go through puberty so young. What types of things did you tell
them and how did you help them. What were the experiences with
other children? Do you have any advice about how to slow it down
so the child can reach normal height? Have other kids with
early puberty grown to normal height? Thanks
have you let your doctor know about the early puberty? Is 8
typical in either your family or your husbands family?
Precocious puberty, and 8 is precocious, can lead to health
issues and should be evaluated by a doctor. The biggest problem
is that early menses can arrest bone growth, so they often give
hormone shots for a period of a year or so to make sure that the
bone plates don't get hardened too early.
Honestly, a big part of it is genetics.
You can try to limit her exposure to chemicals that are proven to
affect it, but again, its mostly genetics from what I understand
having nurses in the family.
Just be honest with her. She is 8 years old and she is old enough
to understand alot of things. Just introduce concepts slowly and
that are age appriopreate.
Have you spoken with your doctor about whether it is early
puberty or premature andrenarchy. They are different. I believe
adrenarchy has less severe outcomes. My son has adrenarchy and we
have been told by our doctor that it will affect his overall
height by 2-4 inches but otherwise it is benign. Get a second
opinion for your peace of mind.
Are you sure your daughter is going through early puberty? Have
you had both the blood tests and the bone x-ray? (Bones expand
to leave room for growth which is why you want the x-ray.)
My daughter began growing pubic hair in kindergarten. She prayed
for it and thought when it grew at age 6 it was God answering
her prayer. We had a series of blood tests as well as the x-ray
and she was not in early puberty.
When she was eight she began growing breast buds. She is Latina,
so with the information we received after her blood tests and x-
ray, we expected this development (pun intended). And, at age 9
we are seeing several girls in her class with similar
If your daughter truly is having early puberty, you have some
decisions to make. The first is whether you want to delay
puberty for a year or two. Our decision was this, if the tests
had come out positive at age 6 for early puberty, we would delay
the process using hormones until age 9. However, we did not make
the same decision when we saw breast buds at age 8.
Like you, we wonder about our decision, and have not had a new
round of blood tests and x-rays because we will not alter
through hormones the path that she is on. And we wonder about
this choice and how it will affect height. In our case, our
daughter is currently in the 95th percentile in height - but,
Making the Best Decision we can
Hi - I am not sure what you mean by early puberty (breast
development? pubic hair? menses?) but whatever is going on
please go meet with your pediatrician. If your daughter is
going through truly early puberty then you will be referred to
an endocrinologist for further testing and possible treatment.
There are things that can be done and considered but first you
need to figure out whether your daughter is truly going through
early puberty (btw - some breast development at age 8 is no
longer considered to be abnormally early). In addition, if you
want a scientific perspective on the falling age of puberty and
some potential causes go to breastcancerfund.org and search
for ''falling age of puberty.'' But I want to emphasize that as
far as assessing what is going on with your daughter you should
really take her to her pediatrician.
This could be what is called 'precocious puberty. Look at the info from the
My daughter began developing this year at the age of 9. When we were in for her
yearly check up, the pediatrician noted that this was young and asked to have
return in 6 months for a follow up evaluation to rule out any problems. I
with your child's doctor. There are medical interventions. Good luck.
Sometimes early puberty can be caused by something as simple as
being a few pounds overweight.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that earlier onset of puberty
can lead to increased rates of adult obesity and reproductive
cancer. The younger girls are when they get their first periods,
the greater their risk of breast cancer later in life. First
menstruation (menarche) before age 12 raises breast cancer risk
by 50 percent compared with menarche at age 16.
Ask your pediatrician if your child is just overweight or obese,
before he starts drawing blood and running a lot of tests.
Exercising more and losing weight can postpone the age of puberty
My nearly 8 year old daughter has recently been diagnosed with
precocious puberty. Her bone density test indicates that she has
the bone development of a 10 year old so she's about 2 years
ahead of her peers in physically maturing. I'm in the process of
doing lots of reading and web surfing to determine long term
effects of not only the reduced bone growth/reduced height which
occurs when puberty begins too early, but also trying to find
information/opinions from parents who have made the decision to
(1)use Lupron to slow down the process or (2)chose not to use
hormones and have grown children who are now living life as a
much shorter than average person. Our endocrinologist and
pediatrician both estimate my daughter's height will be about 4'8
if we decide to skip the hormone treatment and have advised that
we need to consider how she'll be impacted socially if she
matures well before her peers. Thanks.
Thoughtful Mother Trying to Make an Informed Decision
This is a very tough situation and I feel for you and your
I, too, have an eight year old daughter. She started growing
pubic hair in kindergarten (she actually prayed for it when she
was 5; it showed up when she was 6 and she now believes in God
because of the miracle). My daughter had the x-ray and the blood
tests. While we were waiting for the results my partner and I
talked about our options and decisions.
Our decisions are below and were based on the following factors:
1) Our daughter is predicted to be 5'8'' - 5'10'' when fully grown
if not precious puberty; 2) She is Latina which means that she
will most likely get her period, breasts, etc. about the same
time as African American girls, but earlier than white girls and
3) Her emotional maturity is more developed than her peers.
All of those factors made us say that based on the test results,
if it is predicted that she would get her period before age 10
we would use the Lupron, 10 or later we would not use the Lupron.
As it turns out we did not have to make the decision, because,
yes, while she has pubic hair, she does not have precocious
puberty - and in some ways the doctor has agreed that very few
other girls have the hair without the puberty. My daughter is
now convinced it's a miracle.
Bottom line, it's a hard choice. I would vote for 6 - 12 months
Mom who Feels for Your Situation
It's very important to have puberty on time. Don't afraid from
hormones. Apparently, your daughter lives under stress, and her
physical development goes ahead. Don't push her to teenager
psychological and phisical problems before! Precocious Puberty
could provocate many behavior, social,sexual problems.
Think about what it will be like for your daughter to get her
period at 9 or 10. Mine got hers at a few months after 11, which
I think is a little on the early side. The logistics of carrying
and using pads have been quite difficult for her. Having the
period is extremely embarassing (which of course complicates the
I also have a sister who is just barely 5 feet, and she's had to
work awfully hard for professional recognition (especially when
she was young) -- people tended to see her as cute but they
didn't take her seriously; so she had to dress and act more
formally than someone of average height -- just a small
difference in height seems to have a big effect on people's
Unless Lupron has side effects you want to avoid, both effects --
delaying menstruation, and growing -- seem positive.
I know nothing about precocious puberty, but I do know about
being a short professional woman (a subject of one poster's
concern). I am 4'11''. I was always the smallest girl in the
class. I matured early (12 was early back then), and had a big
chest that was pretty prominent for a tiny little thing. But
other than some of the expected classmate sniggering (more
about my chest than my height), I never had a problem being
short. Being a woman, yes; being short, no. I made partner in
a big law firm, developed a practice, and got appointed to the
bench. Up there, no one knows I'm small. (As one of the
felons once commented, seeing me walking in the courthouse
hallway, ''she's a lot bigger on the bench.'') So if your
daughter ends up being short, so be it. Tell her to be a
Small but Mighty
My 6 year old kindergarten daughter has been referred to a
pediatric endocrinologist. She has begun growing pubic hair and
has a strong body odor when exercising (dancing, P.E., etc).
Has anyone out there had similar experiences. So far, the bone x-
ray indicates a normal 6 year old structure.
Are there questions I should be asking? Has anyone been in a
similar situation? I don't feel overly alarmed and don't want to
be an alarmist, but I did not expect to have the ''Your body will
begin to grow hair'' talk for another couple of years.
My daughter is happy about the hair growth - now believes in
God, because she prayed for hair ''on her bottom'' when she was 5
and noticed it on her 6th birthday.
Mom of a Proud Daughter
I'm no expert, but I have read several articles that tied
overconsumption of soy products (especially soy-based infant
formula) to early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys.
NOt sure if it applies to your case, but if you think soy might be a
culprit, you might want to do some research and talk to your
pediatrician. Mothering Magazine ran an article about it a while back,
and there are lots of over resources (not all of them valid, I'm sure)
on the Web.
This was me as a girl. I had tiny breasts by the age of four and pubic
hair at five (crotch and underarm), and large breasts by the third
grade. I was always a head taller throughout my classes; larger,
taller, heavier and bigger. But by everyone else's puberty in the 5th
grade we were all the same size Thank God for my friend Sandy finally
catching up in height! though my breasts did become larger than other
girls' and stayed large. I was very embarassed by my body (wearing
parkas in summer in SoCal to hide my breasts, not wanting others to see
the fact that I was wearing a bra--no white shirts, tank tops).
I died of embarassment when I saw another girl buying her training bra
at Penneys when I was getting my regular women's size bras. I stank b/c
I didn't know I needed to bathe and use deodorant and finally the school
nurse had an intervention with me, telling me about Mitchum deodorant.
I had my menses in the 4th or 5th grade (though I understand this is
usual now), when my sister was getting hers in the 8th grade.
So. Keep your daughter positive about her body image. Keep her
athletic. Get her a bra when she needs it. Be careful of others who
think her body is old enough when her mind or feelings are not. Explain
puberty/body changes to her now.
Teach her about deode, respect for herself. On the playground at the
age of 6 or 7, I was looked up to as the ''defender''
against boys chasing girls, teaching them to band together to chase
back, or how to break the hold of someone's grabbing my jacket. Adults
treated me ''older'' which made me a smarter kid, listening to adults,
getting better treatment from teachers.
In the 70s there were no pediatric endocrinologists to consult, but I
remember a week long stay in the hospital with lots of tests to find out
why I was big. Inconclusive, though I got a Holly Hobbie doll out of it!
Denise the Big Girl
Dear Mom of a Proud Daughter,
It is great that your daughter has such a great attitude about what is
happening to her body. I'm sorry I don't have any personal experience
with your situation. (Although, I went thru puberty about 2 years ahead
of my peers, I was still within the ''normal'' range.) However, I helped
a friend do some research on precocious puberty not to long ago. There
is a lot of helpful information if you google "early puberty" and/or
"precocious puberty". We found many helpful sites, including...
http://www.toosoon.com A site put together by a pharmaceutical company
but it has helpful information including a list of questions for your
doctor a story to help explain things to your child.
And, many, many more sights on precocious puberty.
I'm not sure if you have already seen the pediatric endocrinologist but
hopefully you will soon. Treatment is available and is very important
for some children.
You might want to take a look at a book called, It's Perfectly Normal by
Robie H. Harris, and decide if it is appropriate for your daughter. It
is a standard puberty book, but you could certainly just read the parts
to her that are relevant and save the rest for later. In any case, my
children think it is a great book and were first introduced to parts of
it at 8 years old.
Also, The Care and Keeping of YOU, is an American Girl book that my
daughter couldn't live without.
When do girls start puberty these days? I saw a message
mentioning a 10-year old girl starting menstruation and I'm so
surprised. Is this typical? How do the kids (and the parents)
girls start puberty from age 8, but most start at age 10
puberty begins with breast development and 2 years later the periods usually come
if the girls are overweight then these things occur earlier than average
100 pounds is when periods usually kick in
My daughter started her period at 13 but I've known girls that started at 9 or 10 -
they say girls are starting younger these days. When my daughter was 9 I bought
her ''The Period Book'' so we could read about what was going to happen - I thought
it would be good for her to be prepared. After she got her period I bought her a
book called ''Changing Bodies, Changing Lives'' - a book for teenagers about sex,
love, and friendship by the authors of ''Our Bodies, Ourselves.''
Mother of a daughter
I started puberty when I was 10 years old. I don't know if
this is typical these days, but I was definitely earlier than
my classmates. (I'm 31 now.) But you just handle it the way
you would for an older girl. Just talk about it. I was
initially embarrassed and tried to hide it for a day. But the
blood leak in my pants gave me away, of course. My mom came in
my room and asked me about it. We had a good conversation and
I felt fine after that. By the way, we had had some sex
education in school. So I was already aware of what was going
on. I was just shy about being the first one of my friends to
get her period.
I am 31, and started menstruating at 9. Yes nine years old. My
sister started at 11. She is now 13.
The average age of menarche decreased a lot in the beginnng of
the last century, but seems to have leveled off somewhat in the
past few decades. But there is a very wide range. Some are
starting ''early'' these days (10 or so, some even earlier), but
certainly not every girl. Among my daughter's peers, I think the
range was about 9 1/2 -14 1/2. I think the average is about 12 1/2.
According to the online ''museum of menstruation and women's
''In Europe and America, and probably in other cultures, the
average age at which a girl first menstruates has gradually
declined in recent historical times, the possible reasons being
better nutrition and health (but see below). The age seems to
have leveled off in America at the end of the 20th century,
although the first appearance of other signs of sexual maturity,
such as breasts and pubic hair, is still declining, possibly as a
result of obesity and estrogen in the environment''
My daughter is almost 13 and hasn't started her period yet. I would consider her to be
''in puberty'' however as her breasts are developing, etc. I know there's a lot of talk
about puberty starting earlier, but if 12 is average, then some will start at 10 and some
at 14... I was a ''late bloomer'' myself.
The women in my family pubesce young. My sisters and I got our
periods at 11, but I was still surprised to see signs of puberty
(underarm hair and budding breasts) on my 9 year old niece. My
niece's mom, suspecting puberty would come sooner rather than
later, has tried to prepare her daughter for these women's
issues by making them as normal as possible. My sisters and I
have participated in a bra-shopping outing whose sole purpose
was to demystify bras and demonstrate to my niece how each
woman's body has different bra needs. The goal is that when my
niece does buy her first bra, she'll know exactly what to
expect. Ditto for other puberty issues.
I'm almost 37 and I began menstruating at age 10, as did my
mother who just turned 63. So, while I have heard that the
average age of menarche is a bit lower than it was a generation
or two ago, I am surprised that you were surprised to hear of a
10-year-old menstruating! I expect to prepare my daughter by
the time she's 8 or 9, though I certainly wouldn't worry if she
ends up not starting until 11 or 12.
After the responses I read, I want to throw in my two cents. Our daughter
was very athletic, starting as a toddler (monkey bars at age 2.5), was
always winner of all playground games, eventually in junior/senior year
high school, state finalist soccer team. She was using a fitness club with
weight room at age 15. Which was good, not bad---she wasn't doing the
Arnold thing. Just want to underscore the level of commitment and
dedication to physical conditioning/exertion. The point being, she was
(and IS) very healthy, but her period didn't come 'til nearly age 17, and
then only sporadicallly. Now she's at college, not playing competitive
sports, and her period is coming more frequently. When she was 14-16
yrs old, experts advised us that when girls'/womens' bodies are
enduring such great levels of ''stress'', (this happens to ballerinas a LOT)
their bodies react by shutting down the fertility/reproductive machinery,
sensing that , This person couldn't withstand bearing a child, so it's not
going to happen. A prof of Public Health told me there's actually a name
for it----something-or-rather Syndrome. Just wanted to let you know
there's other experiences except 9 and 10 year olds getting their
periods. Oh, also, I (mom) didn't get my period 'til 14 and I was pretty
A totally unscientific comment on girls and puberty: My daughter, now
12, showed signs of early development of sweat glands at about age 7 or 8.
I began to buy only meats not treated with hormones, and the evidence of
sweat glands disappeared. Then hormone additives were approved in
dairy cows. Within a few months, the sweat gland evidence was back. I
switched to more expensive, less convenient milk produced without the
additive--condition went away. It was a nuisance, so I decided to
give SAfeway milk one more try. Within 2 weeks the evidence came back.
Now we're back on hormone free milk, and have been for a long time. My
daughter has some breast development and early signs of pubic hair,
but is still not menstruating. I'm keeping my family off of the milk with
hormone additives, and continue to use mostly natural meats!
(Incidentally, she is a big consumer of soy products and shows no
signs of hormone effects from any of those products).
Menstruation in girls is one of the LAST developments in puberty- by the
time your daughter starts menstruating, she is basically adult in
form and function- hence, just because she isn't menstruating yet doesn't
mean you're holding off puberty... growth spurt in height is one of the
earliest signs, followed by breast development and hair growth. this is
not to say that hormone-free foods don't make a difference, however.
Girls' Early Puberty: LATimes: Better nutrition and changing
The LA Times has a good summary of the questions concerning girls
Here's my summary of their article. The article is well worth a read,
but I didn't want to blatantly violate copyright rules by copying
the whole thing into this posting.
Are girls hitting puberty earlier than before?
Yes. According to Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, 15% of white girls and 48% of African American girls
showed signs of breast development or pubic hair by age 8.
In 1890, the average age of menarche in the United States was 14.8 years.
Today it's 12.5, according to the study in Pediatrics, which tracked
17,000 girls to find out when they hit different markers of puberty.
Other developmental changes begin much sooner, often at age 8.
What seems to be causing it?
Better nutrition and changing sociological factors.
Why does it divide across races?
The reason for the racial disparity is unclear.
How does it relate to beef and hormones?
But few experts blame this earlier maturation on the sex and
growth hormones farmers give cattle. "That's just another urban
myth," said Ruth Kava, director of nutrition for the American
Council on Science and Education. "Lack of exercise and increased
body fat are much likelier suspects." Dietary hormones aren't
taken too seriously because many other factors are known to affect
puberty's onset. Nutrition, body fat, ethnicity and maternal genes
have all proved to play a role. Some suspect social influences:
our culture's sexualization of young people, society's pressure on
young girls to look grown-up, and even the presence or absence of
a girl's biological father. But estrogen artificially implanted in
steer? Not likely.
What might delay it?
Body fat also triggers the pituitary gland, a small gland in the
brain that is the traffic signal for puberty. Thus, heavier girls
mature faster than lean girls. The increase of childhood obesity
has almost definitely brought down the age of puberty. Conversely,
dancers and female athletes who train hard may have very delayed
or absent periods.
Finally, father-daughter relationships may play a role. In a study
published in September in the Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville
concluded that girls who have close relationships with their
biological fathers during their first five years of life
experience relatively late puberty, compared with girls raised
without their fathers present or by stepfathers. Researchers
speculate that exposure to the scent of unrelated adult men
accelerates puberty, while exposure to the scent of a biological
father inhibits it--a phenomenon that occurs in other mammals
It doesn't speak to the issue of soy drinks, but I am sure you get their
take on the issue.
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