Ask A Pediatrician: Puberty Too Early?
Q. My 8-year-old daughter is starting to have pubic hair. Is that normal?
A. My first thought when I hear this question is- does she have breast buds. One part of a routine yearly physical includes an evaluation of signs of puberty. Precocious puberty is puberty that starts too early. For African American females this age is 6-7, and for Caucasian females, the age is 7-8. Darker-skinned individuals who have more hair on their body may develop pubic hair early. If it is not associated with breast bud development, then all you would do medically is watch this closely. Breast development is not just fat deposition in the breast area, but the actual development of breast tissue which is firm. At a check-up, your pediatrician would monitor your daughter’s height and weight and progression of pubertal development. If there are any signs of precocious puberty, a referral to a pediatric endocrinologist would be made.
Everyone is different and develops differently. It is important to reassure young girls that they are normal. In our culture, self-esteem can be affected adversely by being the girl that develops early. An open line of communication with a female caregiver and a pediatrician can help with this.
If she does not have breast development, I would not worry. I would follow up with your pediatrician for further evaluation.
DR. CATHERINE PHILLIPPI is a pediatrician at TrustCare Kids in Gluckstadt, MS. Visit trustcarekids.com to learn more.