Girls Puberty Age Drops?

Brad M. Griffin | Aug 10, 2010

As the parent of an 8-year-old girl, this one was unsettling.

Girls today may start developing breasts by age 7 or 8, the New York Times reported yesterday from a new study released in the journal Pediatrics. While the average age of first menstruationtypically the mark of girls entrance into pubertyremains between ages 12 and 13, recent research argues that other signs of puberty may be dropping.

The debate over earlier puberty in girls has been going for more than a decade, and while the jury seems to still be out, many studies have linked obesity with earlier onset of puberty. Thats also true in this study. So if the age is indeed dropping, its primarily doing so among overweight girls.

Nevertheless, it raises all sorts of questions for us as youth workers and for parents of teenagers (or soon to be teenagers). In the midst of a culture that increasingly pushes sexualized messages on younger girls, how do we also talk about the potential reality of earlier sexual maturity? What kinds of conversations do we need to have with younger girls about their bodies?

I dont think we need to sound any alarms over this report, but I do think we need to keep talking.

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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