Early Puberty in Girls
In the U.S., the current average age of a girl’s first period is 12, but the first physical sign of puberty for a girl can happen much sooner.
In the U.S., the current average age of a girl’s first period is 12 — it was 13 in the 1950s and 17 in the late 1800s — but the first physical sign of puberty for a girl can happen much sooner, says Dr. Laura Pridemore, a pediatrician with Novant Health Elizabeth Pediatrics and mother of two girls.
“Sometimes it happens a little sooner, sometimes a little later, but each girl has her own puberty alarm clock,” she says. Breast bud development typically is the first body change, soon followed by pubic or hair growth under arms, but either of those things before the age of 8 should be evaluated by a pediatrician or family doctor, she says.
Children who are overweight may start puberty earlier because of excess estrogen production in the fat tissue, and some studies have shown that girls who consume excess meat and dairy have a tendency to start puberty earlier.
“Contrary to popular belief, we eat far too much meat and dairy than is needed for optimal health,” Pridemore says. She recommends meat or dairy in small quantities and fully free-range and grass-fed with no antibiotics or hormones added if possible.
At whatever age your daughter enters puberty, keep an open line of communication. Talk with her about what to expect and to understand the process, and to prepare her with necessary supplies to help her feel comfortable in her development.