cover image The New Puberty: Navigating Girls’ Early Development in Today’s World

The New Puberty: Navigating Girls’ Early Development in Today’s World

Louise Greenspan, M.D., and Julianna Deardorff, Ph.D. Rodale, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62336-342-0

A growing number of young girls, some as young as seven-and-a-half years old, have been entering puberty early. This accessible volume from clinical psychologist Deardorff and pediatric endocrinologist Greenspan examines the phenomenon’s causes and cases and offers strategies for girls and their parents to understand, manage, and possibly delay adverse physiological and psychological effects. Identifying three main “puberty prompters”—obesity, exposure to xenoestrogens and other chemicals that affect the hormone system, and social and psychological stressors—the authors suggest lifestyle changes including healthy nutrition, limited exposure to synthetic chemicals in household and beauty products, and the creation of a supportive family environment. They also discuss when medical intervention is appropriate and how to avoid future social and medical repercussions. While the media has, perhaps, sensationalized this topic, the good news is that while breast development, mood swings, body odor, and other signs of puberty may be evident in girls younger than in previous generations, the whole process now lasts longer, ending with menarche (the onset of menstruation) at an average age of 12 and a half. Urging parents not to “have the talk” with their daughters but rather to start an ongoing conversation as soon as possible, the authors share an abundance of action-based steps that should allay the fears of many panicked moms and dads and help girls to grow and thrive. (Sept.)