Breast growth at age 5?
Stop! That can’t be a THING… Can it?
As Strollerderby has previously reported, girls as young as 7 are documented as having had their period.
According to Jezebel, by age 7 an astounding 23% of African American girls are showing breast growth followed by 15% of Hispanic girls, 10% of Caucasian girls and only 2% of Asian girls.
That can’t be what mother nature intended. But it’s happening and an increasing number of moms want to know why.A landmark study in the sixties suggested the average age at which girls hit puberty to be 11. But, as the NY Times reports, a doctor in the late eighties first noticed otherwise:
Marcia Herman-Giddens, then a physician’s associate in the pediatric department of the Duke University Medical Center, started noticing that an awful lot of 8- and 9-year-olds in her clinic had sprouted pubic hair and breasts…So she started collecting data, eventually leading a study with the American Academy of Pediatrics that sampled 17,000 girls, finding that among white girls, the average age of breast budding was 9.96. Among black girls, it was 8.87.
It’s true, girls are getting their periods earlier than ever and as Jezebel reports, no one knows why:
It has been theorized that stress, environment and obesity could all be contributing factors (which narrows the cause down to…everything), so it would be interesting and perhaps beneficial to see a percentage breakdown based on socioeconomic status as opposed to race. Does early puberty effect 23% of African American girls living in wealthy communities as it does girls living in lower-income areas? Are 10% of Caucasian girls developing prematurely across the board or is it more common for those living with less access to nutrition?
To dig a little deeper I checked out the NY Times article Jezebel cites. In Puberty Before Age 10: A New ‘Normal’? Elizabeth Weil interviews Tracee Sioux, whose 9-year-old daughter Ainsley began developing pubic hair at age 6. Test after test with doctor after doctor turned up nothing unusual.
“The doctors always come back with these blank looks on their faces, and then they start redefining what normal is,” Tracee tells Weil. “And I always just sit there thinking, What are you talking about, normal? Who gets pubic hair in first grade?”
The doctors left Tracee and Ainsley hanging without suggesting any course of action. A shrug of the shoulders, an immediate acceptance of something that is obviously so very not normal.
As the NY Times reports, Tracee continues her search for solutions. What she has found out from alternative doctors is what Jezebel summarized earlier: girls are developing earlier because of estrogens in the environment, stress and obesity. Just what stressors in the environment could induce early onset puberty is anyone’s guess.
To help deal with the situation Tracee started the blog The Girl Revolution with a mission to “revolutionize the way we think about, treat and raise girls.” I hopped over there for a second and it’s definitely something that all mothers of daughters should check out.
About sharing her and her daughter’s story with the NY Times Tracee says, “I also felt that choosing not to talk about it added some sort of shame to early puberty, as if we had done something wrong to, as you hear constantly “allow girls to grow up too fast.” Well, we’re not ashamed and we shouldn’t be. We didn’t do anything to cause it. We didn’t neglect to do anything that caused it. We didn’t do a damn thing to ‘make our girls grow up too fast’… It might be the hormones in meat and milk, it might be pesticides, it might be flame retardants, it might be the plastic Playtex insert baby bottles we microwaved when she was a baby, it might be eating more protein than our ancestors, it could be anything. Or it’s possible that it is none of these things.”
She’s absolutely right. There is nothing to be ashamed of and the more people like Tracee and Ainsley who share their stories, the more equipped moms of young daughters are to deal with the situation should it occur in our families.