Home > Teens > Puberty and Sex > Changes During Puberty > Early Puberty in Girls at an All-Time High
|

Early Puberty in Girls at an All-Time High

Kids these days are growing up too fast – literally. A recent study shows that a significant number of girls are beginning to develop breasts and hit puberty by age 7 or 8, around second grade. Often referred to as precocious puberty, this trend could have long-term negative effects on a girl's overall health.

The average age at which U.S. girls usually begin puberty is 10 or 11. But the study, published in the August 9, 2010 issue of Pediatrics, shows a notable spike in the number of girls with some breast growth by age 7 or 8.

The study tracked 1,239 girls between the ages of 6 and 8 from three U.S. cities. Across the board, the results were startling: 10 percent of 7-year-old white girls had some breast development, compared to 5 percent in a 1997 study. And 23 percent of 7-year-old black girls had started developing breasts as compared to 15 percent in the 1997 study.

Physical and Emotional Effects

In addition to the obvious changes that come with the territory – such as breast and hip growth, acne, and mood swings – girls who experience precocious puberty may face these health issues:

  • Higher risk of breast cancer. Although this link is still being studied, some research has shown that early puberty may be linked with higher breast cancer risk later in life.
  • Shorter stature. Growth in height typically starts to slow down for girls during puberty, so girls who hit it earlier on may not reach the same stature as their peers who get taller before maturing physically.
  • Emotional struggles. In addition to feeling anxiety about their monthly period and changing body, girls who hit puberty much sooner than their peers can feel alienated from friends who are experiencing more typical development. Their classmates are likely to notice and point out the changes, and some may even tease and taunt them.
  • Young pregnancy. As if a girl in the throes of puberty well before middle school doesn't have enough to handle, there's also the issue of sexuality. Most younger girls haven't had any sex education or discussions with a parent, so they may be clueless about making safe choices. This could potentially affect the rates of teen or even preteen pregnancy.
Schools and parents may not feel equipped to help guide girls going through puberty well before the typical age. Although it may feel uncomfortable for you as a parent to have these discussions so early on, kids going through this will need information on puberty and sex education much sooner than their peers in order to navigate the challenges ahead.


|


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Fun Driveway and Sidewalk Games for Kids
Looking for classic outdoor games kids can play in the driveway or on the sidewalk, just like the good ol' days? From hopscotch to bubble-blowing contests, there's something for all ages!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Best Sun Safety Practices for Babies
Follow these sun safety practices for babies to ensure your little one stays safe on the beach and on sunny days all year long.