LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - (KTRE) - New studies seem to show a shocking a trend: younger and younger girls starting puberty. The latest, a study in Pediatrics, reports about 15% of American girls start as young as age 7 - that could be a second grader.
It's news many parents are never ready to hear: you're child is starting puberty. It's perhaps shocking, if you're the parent of a seven year-old girl.
"It's a body's maturation to become an adult to have their own children some day," said Dr. Cristina Graves, Pediatrician with The Children's Clinic.
Graves, says there could be a few factors behind early onset of puberty.
"There's a lot of speculation about hormones in what we eat although there hasn't been a lot of good studied done to prove that," said Graves.
However, they do know obesity can kick start puberty much earlier.
"We see girls produce breast buds much sooner growing hair much sooner, starting periods much sooner," said Graves.
Elementary school counselors say kids just want to fit in, but if a girl who's 7, 8, 9 years-old starts puberty, they're worried about them feeling isolated.
That's definitely top of mind for Coston Elementary counselor Cindy Stewart.
"When there's something physically that sets us apart from others we can quite often become a target for bullying," said Stewart.
She says understanding and frank talks with daughters should be a priority.
"You might have to have those types of talks you might have with your 14 year-old with your ten year-old," said Stewart.
With bodies maturing much faster than their mental maturity, these kids need to know what to in tough situations.
"With the increased onset on puberty, you have increased risk in those areas for drug abuse, for early sexual abuse," said Stewart.
Dr. Graves says the best prevention of early on-set puberty is a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.