Kids now-a-days are hitting puberty at a much earlier age compared to the scenario just a few years back. Usually, girls reach puberty by the age of 10 to 14. But, the number of girls reaching puberty by the age of 7 or 8 has seen a steady rise in the last few years, marked with physical changes like development of breasts, pubic hair growth, widening of hips, etc. This is likely to have a negative impact on both, health and psychology of the young girls.
Is your daughter hitting puberty earlier than expected?
As a parent it’s natural to be anxious when your little girl reaches puberty. These are the symptoms you should look out for, to identify if she is growing up sooner than expected:
- Growth of hair in pubic and underarm region
- Development of breasts
- Vaginal discharge
- Adult body odor
- Growth spurts
- Irritability and moodiness
If you observe any of these signs in your daughter, it is recommended to take her to a doctor to determine if the symptoms are normal or if any medical supervision is required.
Is it a matter of concern?
Yes, early puberty brings with itself a series of psychological struggles accompanied with physical discomfort for the girl, as at the tender age of 7-8, her mind and body are not mature enough to deal with such drastic changes. She might go through massive mood swings, teen emotions and PMS-like symptoms as well. Early sexual urge is another major issue faced by girls reaching puberty, which can be dangerous as girls that young are not mature enough to understand and channelize these feelings in a constructive way.
Even though she is just a little girl, puberty brings with it physical changes that attract unwanted attention from the opposite sex. She might face difficulties in coming to terms with such situations. This could even make her socially awkward, thus forcing her to shun social interactions, which can even lead to depression.
As girls hit puberty, the growth in height slows down. Hence, girls with early onset of puberty may not attain a similar stature as their peers, who get taller before physical maturity. Some studies show that early puberty might even increase the risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
What causes Early Puberty?
Multiple factors like lifestyle, environmental changes and social influences are responsible for girls hitting puberty at an earlier age. But before deciding which of these factors are responsible in your case, you must consider the pathological conditions by taking her to the doctor. Common factors, either of which or in combination can be held responsible for girls reaching puberty sooner are as follows:
- Fluoride, commonly found in public water supplies, decreases the level of melatonin, thus triggering an early onset of puberty
- Increase in childhood stress and exposure to adult material due to easy access to internet and television
- Girls suffering from obesity due to sedentary lifestyle and food habits
Increased exposure to pesticides
- The chemical dichlorobenzene present in air deodorizers, moth balls and solid blocks of toilet bowl
- If your daughter has come in contact with the hormone estrogen through any creams or ointments, it might increase her chances of being an early bloomer
What can you do to prevent early onset of puberty?
As the saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Take necessary precautions while your child is still young.
- Give your daughter a healthy and organic diet. Make sure that she is physically active and encourage her to exercise regularly.
- New mothers should breastfeed their infants, as children who are not breastfed, are more likely to reach puberty early.
- Avoid exposure to sex hormones and harmful chemicals.
What can you do if your daughter has reached an early puberty?
- Help her understand what puberty is in a clear and truthful manner. Provide her the necessary sex education and make her understand the physiology of the female body. Seek assistance from a professional counselor if needed.
- Introduce her to products like bras, sanitary napkins, deodorants and help her deal with any acne problems that she might be facing.
- Explain to her that puberty is completely normal, it is just that she has reached that stage a little earlier than her peers.
- Watch out for any signs of depression or extreme mood swings. Take help of a psychological counselor, if required.
- And most importantly, give her an open and healthy environment at home.
As a parent whose daughter is facing the onset of puberty, your biggest responsibility is to educate her and make her feel confident about her body. Keep an eye out for any social difficulties that she might be facing. Make sure she is raised in a warm and healthy environment, because she might be growing up physically, but mentally she is still just a child and needs all the support and guidance you can provide.
Note: It is imperative that you teach your daughters how to maintain a good menstrual hygiene. Make sure she uses only natural and chemical-free products that don’t harm her delicate skin. Imagine the harm the synthetic pads could do to her body!