Early Puberty in Girls

Dr. Greene’s take on early puberty:

My 8 yr old daughter is showing signs of premature onset of pubery; she has adult-grade underarm odor, blemishes, headaches, and a few hairs under her arms. I have researched out the possible reasons, ie: environmental(plastics & pollutiants) & dietary(hormones in meats & dairy, etc) causes, and am being/have been as cautious as possible. Now I am seeking intervention to stop/slow this process and save her childhood. It is not genetics, in her case(my side of family-puberty started around 15, her fathers side-around 13). Is there a way to slow this overabundance of estrogen!! Homeopathic, or safe medicine??? I am doing everything else. Please help. Thank you
Sarah Doty   

Dr. Greene’s Answer:
I share your concerns, Sarah, about kids being exposed to too many estrogens from dietary and environmental sources – and in some cases (too many cases) from excess body fat.

You may be pleased, or not, to know that onset of puberty in an 8-year-old girl is now considered normal. Early puberty is usually defined as starting before the 8th birthday in girls.

The starting age for puberty has been falling in recent years, and in 1999 the Pediatric Endocrine Society lowered the age of concern even younger, suggesting intervening only when puberty starts before the 7th birthday in white girls or before the 6th birthday in black girls.

I do recommend that 8-year-olds in puberty have a careful evaluation by a doctor skilled in this area. There are medicines (and if there is abnormal hormone secreting tissue – surgery) that can slow or stop puberty until a better time.

Other than that, vigorous daily exercise is perhaps the safest and most effective way to slow puberty. In fact, young female athletes sometimes don’t start their periods until they decrease their training schedule, or increase their body fat to 16%.

Aiming for an ideal body weight can be helpful too, through getting a healthy amount of calories every day. I don’t recommend skipping meals, though, or restricting calories below what kids need to thrive.

Quercitin compounds, nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, leaves and whole grains (notably in green and black tea, citrus fruits, apples, red grapes, buckwheat, red onions, tomatoes, broccoli and leafy greens) are known to bind to estrogen receptors in the body and help correct effects from too much estrogen exposure.

The jury is out on whether quercitin supplements, in their isolated form, would help or hurt here.

But I am a big fan of making quercitin-rich foods a part of the diet every day. There’s enough variety in these foods that they could even be part of every meal and snack.

Some studies have found significantly higher quercitin levels in organic produce.

What you are already doing to avoid unecessary estrogens in meats, plastics, pesticides and personal care products is wise for any child, and especially with puberty starting at 8 years old. Your daughter is fortunate to have such an informed and pro-active mother. My best to you both.


Published on: January 18, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

Oh my gosh. What an epidemic with the overgrowth in young girls.
Part of the problem is the foods we eat. My daughter started her cycle and she is not even 11. I visited a store and in the cereal aisle the stocker warned me the cereals are dangerous. Upon closer look and cross referencing ingredients the food coloring in major cereals are actually made using car dyes and covered with words like FD Yellow 5, Blue Lake, and the worst FD Red #…
STOP giving our kids any cereals that is not organic. Stop giving our kids cheap convenient foods like Lunchables, regular hot dogs.
From what I have researched daily exercise will delayand slow puberty. Raw vegetables is what I am now doing to cleanse her body, reverse odors, and alkaline and balance hormones caused by school county frozen hormone laced meals. The #1 cause of this high rate of puberty is THE FOOD, inactivity (recess is ot enough when you compare it to the process foods). Take part in a weekend sport to begin slowimg down puberty. That’s what athletes do if they start young.
I have more younger daughters and I’ll be damn if I let this happen again. Oh yeah go natural with hair care products too. FD colorants extends to hair car products also. Do your family a favor. The next time you buy a Loreal, Revelon, or even a $1.99 hair care product grab your phone and google ANY ingredient you’ve never ever heard of in your life or can’t even pronounce and you’ll see the damage it has on any organ. Walgreens has plenty natural hair products. Eliminate red meats, don’t put heat on vegs to keep the natural enzymes. It is the natural state of fruits and (green) vegs that many articles and hidden medical documentaries that wipes out cancer out the body. Remember cancer simply put is [a disorder of the blood] and the way it is structured and divided. I am no medical professional or anything but I have children growing up in TODAYS times a d TODAY’s demands. That’s enough to get mad enough about what is happening to their bodies to go research for change. #MAKEACHANGEORBECHANGED

Hello & Help!!
I am the grandmother of a 5.5 year old granddaughter. I don’t live near her. I am have noticed since September in the pictures is see that she has become “puffy” looking! Her face has not jaw line, she is overly ruff and curt, he aunt told me she has Body odor and is starting pubic hair. She is mean and rude. I was an early puberty female, 9 yrs old with large breasts, pubic hair, and menstruation, 5’1″ and 110#s. To sum up my history, I now understand that i was Estrogen dominant, which presented with Migraines, crumby periods, ovarian cysts, 5 miscarriages, fortunately 37 years ago treated hypothyroid & hormones, became really healthy delivered twins. I wish i would have understood I was Estrogen dominant because i could have avoided Breast Cancer twice, 1st time chemo/radiation. 2nd time figured out Estrogen dominance treated with Bio Identical Hormone Balance 19 years cancer free. I am now 67 years old and lived through hell! I have just found out about the MTHFR gene defect we have in the family and understand an underlying cause?? My daughter in law had similar issues, however, i was able to get her help in 2009, thus my granddaughter!!!!!
So here is the problem how do i tell them to help my granddaughter??? Oddly she was open to my help, but HER CHILD, oh my!!!! I just want my granddaughter to be healthy and not live through the torture of “Endometriosis” as I have. Please help me help her!!!!
Thank you! Terry

Hello Dr. Alan
I started noticing early puberty in my daughter (pubic hair, breast development) 6 months ago (her age now is 8 years 8 months) she is overweight. I went to the doctor and we started making tests and x-rays. We unfortunately knew that her bone is growing fast which means she will be taller than her peers now but shorter than the average adult later on. We started giving her injections (3 months interval) to reduce the pace of her bone growth and delay puberty. Yesterday was her third injection we did an x-ray on her hand&wrist again but the results show that the injections are not making any noticeable difference. I will start controlling our diet and exercising together daily but I am worried about her height as an adult. Please help.


Puberty is starting at a younger and younger age, but it is certainly troubling to see little girls starting puberty at age 7. It would be wise to take your daughter to see her pediatrician and discuss why she’s started so early and what treatment she might need.


Hie doctor please help my little girl she is only 7yrs old and she start developing breast am very worried please help me

Hi doctor is there any herbs to stop early puberty on my 7yr old daughter or please can i find the medicines anywhere to stop this as soon as possible


Puberty is starting at a younger and younger age, but it is certainly troubling to see little girls starting puberty at age 7. It would be wise to take your daughter to see her pediatrician and discuss why she’s started so early and what treatment she might need.


Hi doctor. My daughter is 2 years old and has breast development and echo shows ovaries are apparent. Will it be right to start hormone injection so early?

Sarah –

I wonder if you might see this. I am researching the same things you mentioned and am wondering your outcome.