Early Onset Puberty

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on

One of the biggest moments in a girl’s life is when menstruation begins.

This then becomes the question

When is it going to start?

It is becoming common to hear of 6 & 7 year olds getting breast buds and pubic hair and children as young as 8 years beginning their first period.

This is increasingly becoming the norm.

Up until about the 1960’s the average age for beginning menstruation was 14-16 years of age and since then the age has rapidly declined to 12 years and now down to 8 & 10 years of age.

Why has this changed?

There are several reasons that can contribute to early onset of period.

- Increasing rates of overweight children. The excess fat over the body but in particular in the abdomen alters their hormones and their levels therefore accelerating the timing of puberty.

- Excess intake of particular animal proteins. Children are being fed larger amounts of animal protein at a much earlier age. There have been several studies that have associated early onset of period with higher consumption of animal protein between the ages of 3 and 7. The high protein affects regulation of IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1) this is the body’s most important growth promoter which can accelerate the onset of puberty.

- High consumption of dairy and a high sugar diet (this includes carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, & rice) have also been connected with early onset period.

- Exposure to hormonally active synthetic chemicals that mimic, inhibit or alter natural hormones. They are known as endocrine disruptors. Plastics, pesticides, fuels, industrial chemicals. They are found in many products that are used around the house.

There is also another theory that is connected to early onset puberty. That it is connected to environmental social influences with the main influence being parental care.

Parental care has a huge impact on development. It is connected to the changes in our society which has lead to changes in our parenting skills and changes in our family structures.

A bit about my experience and knowledge:

As a Children’s Health Specialist, I have extensive experience in working with hundreds of parents and their parenting skills.  There isn't a how to be a parent handbook and these skills are not built into us. We are not born to be parents naturally, we learn these skills from our parents and our society.

The main contributors from parenting skills that affect children is when parenting becomes inconsistent, less sensitive, and emotionally negative. It is here that insecurities may develop.

One of the skills that I teach parents through my parenting classes is how to build positive attachments with their children so that their children can feel secure.

Most girls feel a loss of childhood if menstruation does begin earlier. Girls getting their period earlier has been linked to increases in levels of anxiety, negative self-images, and increased possibilities to abuse drugs, smoking and alcohol. This increase is may be due to early puberty altering a girl’s social interactions as she is feeling uncomfortable and having to grow up a lot quicker.

There is a theory that possible future health risks that may become associated to early onset puberty which are yet to be discovered as this early onset has happened so rapidly in such a short period of time of only 50 years. The concern is with the earlier exposure to elevated levels of the female hormone oestrogen. The concern is that this could be a risk factor for oestrogen related cancers. There is not enough evidence at this stage to confirm this, as the decrease in age of early onset has happened so rapidly.

Thinking about your little girls period is probably something that you want to avoid while they are young because you want them to stay as young as possible for as long as possible. However, it is when they are young that you need to make any necessary changes and setting her up for a positive experience.

For a full assessment book a consultation today.


Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house.

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath


To book an appointment click here 


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