Unease Over Girls And Early Puberty

Girls hitting puberty at 8, 9.  Very young.  We’ll ask why.

Are girls reaching puberty earlier? (Yves Hanoulle/flickr)

Are girls reaching puberty earlier? (Yves Hanoulle/flickr)

In American families with girls, daughters, the hot topic is early puberty and the sense that everything’s happening younger.  The signs of maturation, the physical changes, coming before age ten.  At nine.  At eight.  Earlier.

It’s by no means universal.  It’s not a problem for everyone.  Puberty itself is hard to define.

But bring it on early and the unease is palpable.  What does this mean?  Why has it happened?  What are the implications?

This hour, On Point:  the big unease over early puberty in girls.

Obesity can be a factor.  We’ll also look at the Vogue editor who denied food to her seven-year-old daughter.

-Tom Ashbrook


Elizabeth Weill, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine.  Author of the article “Puberty Before Age 10: A ‘New Normal’?

Dr. Louise Greenspan, pediatric endocrinologist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco

C Segment: Tiger Mom Dieting

Cynthia Bulik, director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of North Carolina’s Department of Psychiatry.  Author of: “The Woman in The Mirror.”

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “One day last year when her daughter, Ainsley, was 9, Tracee Sioux pulled her out of her elementary school in Fort Collins, Colo., and drove her an hour south, to Longmont, in hopes of finding a satisfying reason that Ainsley began growing pubic hair at age 6.”

Babble Blog Breast growth at age 5? Stop!  That can’t be a THING…  Can it? It can. As Strollerderby has previously reported, girls as young as 7 are documented as having had their period.

Salon “It began with a feature called “Weight Watchers” in the April Vogue, written by Dara-Lynn Weiss. In it, Weiss chronicles her then 7-year-old daughter Bea’s dieting odyssey after the child had “grown fat.” It was a tale that involved putting Bea — who at 4-foot-4 and 93 pounds was veering toward childhood obesity — on an intense regimen of calorie restriction and public shaming.”

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