The typical thoughts that come to mind when thinking of puberty for girls is middle school, training bras, acne, etc. According to a recent study, for many girls, this is beginning much earlier–in the middle of elementary school to be exact. The Atlantic recently covered the details of the study.
A pediatric endocrinologist by the name of Louise Greenspan and a group of other researchers put together a longitudinal study of 1,200 girls, ages 6 to 8, for seven years (2004-2011). They were trying to determine when exactly puberty for girls started.
A girl’s first menstrual cycle usually marks the beginning of puberty for girls, but the beginning should actually be marked by when breast growth starts. To measure this, a doctor must conduct in-person exams.
What did we learn about puberty for girls?
What they found was surprising; half of the girls in the study were hitting puberty earlier than 9 to 10 years old. Why is this surprising? Because at the turn of the century, girls were known to get their periods around 16 to 17 years old with less than 5 percent getting theirs at 8. It’s normal now for a 13 year old to get their period.
Risks for developing puberty for girls early
Obesity, witnessing violence, food insecurity, and chemicals in the environment all contribute to risk factors for early puberty in girls. Some carpeting, shampoos, plastic toys, and plastic bottles contain compounds that mess with the way our endocrine system (glands and hormones) functions, which can cause early puberty for girls.
Why is early puberty for girls dangerous?
Well, it’s been linked to a multitude of issues, including a higher risk of developing diabetes, breast cancer, teen pregnancy, HPV, heart disease, and more. Developing earlier can also put a young girl at a much greater chance of depression, substance abuse, and sexual activity earlier than suggested.
For more information about early puberty in girls, check out Trails Carolina.
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for young people ages 10-17. Call today to learn more.