As girls enter puberty early, mothers watch and worry

Pass me some Advil and let me sit down, because I just had a very scary gab-fest with some local moms.

It was about a national phenomenon we’ve been hearing about on the news, happening right here in Snohomish County; girls entering puberty earlier than anticipated. That means developing two, three, four, or even five years earlier than their mothers did a generation ago.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember needing a bra in third grade. That’s why I think we should all be asking “Why is this happening?” Our daughters deserve an explanation.

I’m not a scientist or doctor, so when I read about the research surrounding early puberty it is easy to get confused. To me, it seems like nobody, not even the American Academy of Pediatrics, is offering a definitive checklist for how to prevent young girls from turning into women too soon. There only seems to be a bunch of theories that cover everything from too much meat and not enough exercise, to plastics in our environment and hormones in our water.

Moms like me are left with conjecture, and I don’t think that qualifies as an answer.

So when the school bus pulls away, moms speculate. Over picnic tables at the park, we anxiously chat. Everyone has their pet idea about what might help.

Some moms wonder about a possible “udder to boob” correlation. They are willing to pay extra money for local milk. (Smith Brothers Dairy, your name gets praised with great affection.) Other moms go even further, and only buy organic milk.

Another suggestion I’ve heard is to choose glass containers over plastic. Maybe holding onto Grandma’s hand-me-down Tupperware is a bad idea. If you test our daughters’ blood for chemicals, we don’t want to find the entire alphabet.

Or is this happening because of the constant bombardment of sexualized images on television and in toys? The My Little Pony I played with in the 1980s was very equine. My daughter’s My Little Pony, is so pert and ready for action that I’m surprised a Catherine the Great action figure isn’t sold as an accessory.

Then there’s that magic number for weight you hear moms talk about. Does 105 pounds equal puberty? Maybe, but I’ve heard of early development happening to slender girls, too.

My own daughter is only 4 years old. She recently traded her tricycle for a two-wheeler with training wheels. I want training bras to be a long way off!

So I hope the scientific community has answers for us soon. Because really, you could sacrifice a chicken, whisper hocus-pocus, and that still wouldn’t stop menstruation. I’m just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure that’s been tried, too.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

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