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Girls Are Reaching Puberty Younger and Younger. What Can Be Done?

Posted on the 04 April 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Girls are reaching puberty younger and younger. What can be done?


Puberty in girls has been starting earlier and earlier. The Mirror reported that in the UK there have been recorded instances of girls as young as three starting puberty, and getting their periods at six. The age of puberty has been happening younger and younger, as nutrition has been improving over the last 50 years.

Statistics, reported Jezebel, show that 23 per cent of African American girls show breast growth by 7, 15 per cent of Hispanic, 10 per cent of Caucasian girls, and 2 per cent of Asian girls.

Yikes. Should we be concerned? asked health expert Miriam Stoppard in The Mirror. “In my opinion, yes.” Puberty is a “huge step forward.” It must be “bewildering” if you’re “emotionally unready.” And usually, adolescent behavior comes with it – “moodiness, solitary behaviour, lack of co-operation” and even “smoking, drinking and drug taking.” Young girls who’ve been early developers have been more prone to anorexia and self-harm. Medically speaking it’s even workse – a woman’s body is “exposed to extra years of oestrogen”, which means higher likelihoods of “ovarian disease and breast cancer.” If it happens with your daughter, you must be calm, and use a “steady hand to counteract her confusion and insecurity.”

What is going on? “Good grief,” said the ever excellent Jezebel. “[W]e thought we had it bad … but today’s girls definitely have it rougher. In addition to online bullying and One Direction, girls are now dealing with entering puberty at earlier and earlier ages.” The blog added, characteristically, “Hoo-fucking-ray.” It asked why the statistics were so racially disparate, and wondered what socioeconomic status might have to say about it.

Can it be stress and obesity? It “can’t be what mother nature intended,” said Babble. Nobody quite knows exactly why it’s happening, but it also has to do with “stress and obesity.”

“The doctors always come back with these blank looks on their faces, and then they start redefining what normal is,” said Tracee Sioux, a mother who’s experienced early onset puberty in her daughter, quoted on The New York Times.

Be calm. Elizabeth Weil in The New York Times ran a feature about a mother and daughter who have experienced this phenomenon. Tracee Sioux’s daughter Ainsley had begun growing pubic hair at the age of 6. Weil pointed out that one of the problems of becoming mature earlier is that you get a shorter time to grow, which means you end up, well, shorter. She pointed to some possible catalysts – chemicals which mimic estrogen occurring in the environment, for instance; although scientifically, it’s hard to test such theses. She suggested that the best thing to do, should it happen to your daughter, is have “patience and perspective.” Everybody’s got to go through it at some point. You might just have to wait.

There are worse things. Nancy French on The Home Front blog on National Review agreed. “And for those of us in less than ideal situations — through our own wrongdoing or the wrongdoing of others? There are worse things than having an early period. (Starving to death in Africa, for example, comes to mind.) No matter our circumstance, it’s important to look at these problems head on, to prepare ourselves for complexities, and to do all we can to maintain a stable peaceful home for our children.”

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