Young girls and their mothers are facing a relatively new-age dilemma, that of early-onset puberty. What used to be the normal age for girls to reach puberty, 12 years old, has changed pretty dramatically in the past few decades, and mothers and daughters alike are having a tough time accepting the change.
Tracee Sioux is one such mother learning to cope with the early puberty-associated challenges she and daughter Ainsley are facing. Ainsley was just nine when she began growing pubic hair and budding breasts.
When no medical doctor could explain Ainsley's precocious puberty, Tracee sought out an applied kinesiologist, Dr. Jared Allomong, for answers.
Dr. Allomong explained that he didn't believe it was Ainsley's body producing the estrogens causing her precocious puberty. Rather, he said “I think it’s xeno-estrogens, from the environment.”
Tracee took his explanation and ran with it, starting a blog called The Girl Revolution as well as a skincare line free of estrogens and other chemicals thought to induce early puberty. According to The Girl Revolution, today's "normal" timeline for entering puberty now includes little girls as young as nine years old.
Some may ask, why does it matter? Numerous studies have shown that early puberty results in an increased risk for a variety of social problems, including low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders.
The New York Times reports that early maturing girls are also more likely to start drinking and become sexually active at an earlier age, as well as have multiple sexual partners and therefore more STDs.
Perhaps the biggest problem resulting from precocious puberty is the way a young girl is then perceived by others.
Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, points out that whether the estrogens are coming from the environment or the young girl's brain makes no difference in how others see her.
Biro says “If a girl is 10 and she looks 15, it doesn’t make any difference if her pituitary is turned on or if something else caused her breast growth. She looks like a middle adolescent. People are going to treat her that way. Maybe she’s not interested in reciprocal sex, but she might be pressured into sex nonetheless, and her social skills will be those of a 10-year-old.”
The real question is how can a mother help an early-maturing girl transition?
Pediatricians believe it is most helpful to offer support and encouragement, focusing on the emotional and physical well-being of the young girl rather than attempting to stop or postpone their inevitable development.
Pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Louise Greenspan, offers parents a word of advice saying “I know they can’t change the fact that their daughter started developing early, but they can change what happens downstream.”
To speak to a doctor near you about this issue.Sources
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.