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Early Puberty

Girls are entering puberty at younger ages, says University of North Carolina researcher,  Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens: 

Herman-Giddens:  "When we looked at both the onset of breast development and/or pubic hair growth, what we found was that the average age for white girls was nine-point-seven years, and for African-American girls it was eight-point-one, so in other words, what we have now in this country is that white girls are in the fourth grade and black girls are in the third grade when they start developing."

Dr. Herman-Giddens told the Congress on Women's Health that girls who enter puberty early may be at increased risk for breast cancer.  It can also be difficult for these girls to adjust socially, and they may have more problems in school.  One cause of early puberty may be simply being overweight:

Herman-Giddens: "I think it's important for parents to really pay attention to what their children are eating...to limit TV...to make sure their kids stay active."

Herman-Giddens also urges parents and schools to begin sex education in a more timely fashion: 

Herman-Giddens: "And then I think this whole issue of the sexualization of children's' toys and using children sexually in advertisements and so forth needs to be addressed...I think parents need to be aware of it and talk to their children about it."

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Created: 9/19/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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