Early Puberty in Girls
Archived Q&A and Reviews
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. Worried Mom
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. Torie
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' (http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/estrogenic-effects-of-soy).
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. Gina
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. G
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 thanks. anon
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 focus on. 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 anxiety level.
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 concerned Mom
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. Sarah
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. Tori
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. Good Luck anon
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 development.
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, what if???? 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. Ioana
This could be what is called 'precocious puberty. Look at the info from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/precocious-puberty/DS00883 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 her return in 6 months for a follow up evaluation to rule out any problems. I would talk with your child's doctor. There are medical interventions. Good luck. Nancy
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 in girls. www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/mar/05/frontpagenews.medicineandhealth Hopeful
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 daughter.
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 of Lupron. 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. http://www.toosoon.com/talking/ milashka
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 logistics.)
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 reactions.
Unless Lupron has side effects you want to avoid, both effects -- delaying menstruation, and growing -- seem positive. short mama
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 judge. 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. good luck
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. http://www.drgreene.com/21_1075.html 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.
Good Luck! natasha
Hello, 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) handle this?? Curious Mom
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 Sophia, pediatrician
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. anon
Hi- I am 31, and started menstruating at 9. Yes nine years old. My sister started at 11. She is now 13. early bloomer
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 health'' http://www.mum.org/menarage.htm: ''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'' R.K.
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. anon
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. Caring Aunt
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. anon
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 athletic, too. Anon
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 sociological factors.
The LA Times has a good summary of the questions concerning girls hitting puberty. http://www.latimes.com/news/health/lat_hormone991101.htm
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.