Q Are girls reaching puberty at a younger age now? — Megan V.
A We are evaluating more children for early puberty, but we are not seeing a greater incidence of actual early or rapidly progressing puberty — and the number who need medical intervention remains small.
Doctors are seeing breast tissue develop earlier in girls, puberty’s first sign, but studies show the average age of girls starting their period — about 12 — has not changed in 30 years.
We are also seeing more early growth of underarm and pubic hair, which concerns many parents. But this does not indicate when girls will start true puberty, or periods, and it usually is benign and needs no treatment.
Talk to your family physician about evaluating your daughter for early puberty if she develops breast tissue before age 8 or starts growing pubic hair before 7. Boys should be evaluated if they develop pubic hair or experience testicular enlargement before age 9.
— Amy Burton, M.D., attending physician in Endocrinology at Children’s and assistant professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern