Early puberty becoming more common

Image Credit: MGN Online

Image Credit: MGN Online

Puberty is hitting girls earlier, with developments like breast buds and pubic hair at 7 or 8 becoming common among American girls.

At an annual conference of The American Academy of Pediatrics recently in Orlando, Florida, pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Paul Kaplowitz explained that despite earlier onset, there usually is not “a rapid progression into full puberty.”

That may be reassuring to parents surprised to see budding breasts, pubic and underarm hair and body odor appearing sooner in girls but the jury is still out on what’s causing these developments.

Obesity is one theory. Yet, as CNN points out there are a lot of unsubstantiated ideas and “there’s no consistent body of evidence that hormones in milk or other foods, chemicals in the environment or sexual messages in the media are to blame.”

Despite the earlier onset of obvious puberty signs, there “has been only a slight shift in the age of menarche (the first period) over the past four decades.” In the United States, the average age is 12.5 years, a relatively small drop from 12.75 in 1970.

To read more on what parents should watch for with early puberty, click here to read the full story at CNN.com.

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