Has puberty arrived early?

My daughter seems to be developing very early. She is tall for her age and has started developing breasts at age eight. I would not be surprised if she begins to menstruate early too. Should I be concerned, and what can she and I do to prepare for this unexpected early development?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

What a wise and compassionate mother you are. It is true that girls are developing earlier in this modern world. Some believe this may be due to a variety of stimulants as diverse as artificial light to our high fat diets.

My first recommendation would be that you seek out a female pediatrician and seek her counsel. Men, of course, can be just as comforting but I would imagine that your daughter would be more comfortable with a woman.

There are some pituitary conditions which cause rapid growth and early development so it would be wise to have this ruled out initially. The pediatrician could also assess your daughter for Tanner's Stages, which is a sequential process that children go through as they pass into puberty.

Stage 1

Age Range: Usually 8 to 11
no external signs of development; ovaries are producing estrogen and progesterone but not in adult amounts.

Stage 2

Age Range: 8 to 14. Average: 11 to 12
Beginning of breast growth, "breast buds" form beneathe areola (pigmented area around nipple). Height and weight increases. First evidence of pubic hair (fine and straight).

Stage 3

Age Range: Usually 9 to 15. Average: 12 to 13
Breast growth continues and the scant pubic hair coarsens and becomes darker. Clear or whitish discharge may appear at the vaginal opening. First period may occur late in this stage.

Stage 4

Age Range: Usually 10 to 16. Average: 13 to 14
Pubic hair growth takes on the triangular shape of adulthood, but doesn't quite cover the entire area. Underarm hair is likely to appear in this stage, as is menarche. A girl's first period (menarche) usually occurs, but may occur late in Stage three (typically, about a year after breast buds form). Ovulation may occur, but not on a regular basis.

Stage 5

Age Range: Usually 12 to 19. Average: 15
Final stage of development, achieves adult physical shape and size and characteristics. Breast and pubic hair growth are complete. Menstrual periods are well established and ovulation can occur monthly.

Two books that I especially like:

These are both excellent resources to share and read with your daughter.

For additional information:

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