Is your daughter growing up too soon?

DNA

India
Published: Sunday, Jan 16, 2011, 3:00 IST
By
Kareena Gianani | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Early puberty in daughters may soon be something more parents will have to be prepared for.

As growing numbers of girls reach puberty even before they’re ten, a frank chat and, in some cases, hormonal intervention, can help young girls deal with the ways their bodies are changing.

Eight-and-a-half-year-old Viveka Chinoy is dealing with changes that her vocabulary doesn’t even include. Recently, her areolae grew in size, followed by slight but definite breast tissue development – enough for her to need a second layer of clothing under her school uniform.

Her mother, Sonia is stunned. “I thought Viveka had at least two more years until her body goes through these changes, as was the case with me and my peers.”

Alarmed by the changes, Sonia took Viveka to a gyaenacologist who told her they were part of the hormonal changes that indicate puberty.

“It felt as if a precious two years had been taken off her childhood. It worries me that, soon, she will be worried about her periods when most girls her age would still be ‘kids’,” says Sonia.

Here to stay
Although several international studies have documented the rising number of girls hitting puberty before the age of 10, a definitive Indian study is yet to be conducted.

A 2006 survey, conducted by the Federation of Obstetrics’ and Gynaecologists’ Societies of India, reported that girls were reaching puberty at 11 on an average — earlier than the global average which was 13 at that time.

But experts say there is enough evidence on the ground of an even earlier onset of puberty.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Kiran Coelho says the trend is conclusive. “More girls are hitting puberty earlier than before, but the message that needs to go out to parents is that it is not something ‘alarming’. “Whether we like it or not, this is here to stay. Nothing is ‘wrong’ with your daughter’s body, though the anxiety that comes with it is completely understandable. This calls for open communication channels between a mother and daughter and more responsibility on mothers to look after their daughters’ physiological and psychological needs,” she says.

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Obviously, early puberty is becoming a global issue…let’s just hope they do not start pushing the vaccine to delay puberty on these girls.

PG

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.