Early Puberty in Girls

Dr. Greene’s take on early puberty:

Early Puberty in Girls

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.


Dr. Alan Greene

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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  1. kristen

    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.

  2. Mercie

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

  3. Mercie

    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

    • Mercie,

      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.


  4. Ayushi

    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?

  5. Jana

    Sarah –

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


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