In the 80s of the last century, doctors from all around the world reported a strange tendency to “rejuvenate” the age of onset of primary sexual characteristics in girls. A large number of girls began developing pubic hair and breasts at the age of 8 and 9.
Medical textbooks at that time were based on extensive surveys from 1960, according to which, the average age for entering puberty was 11 years. This made many doctors suspicious so at the end a major survey of American Academy of Pediatrics was held. At the end the average age for entering puberty was announced to be 9.96 years for women from the Caucasian race.
Normal or pathology?
Girls who enter puberty at an early age fall into two groups: girls with hormonal disorders, such as precocious puberty with a central origin, and those who simply develop earlier.
While couple of years ago the border between normal and pathology was distinct, now it is very blurred.
There are few diagnostic methods to distinguish the normal from pathological early development of girls. Among the all methods, an old but proven one is still the mainly used – radiography of bones. The research has proven its role in time and for now it is the only one that gives more complete information on bone age of the other more modern diagnostic techniques.
X-ray shows bone age of the girl and the presence (or absence) of early ossification. The main risk in girls with early puberty is the advanced bone age, which is a prerequisite to stop the growth before the child has reached its optimum.
Girl, whose menstrual cycle started at the age of 10, will stop growing at an earlier age and will remain shorter than another genetically identical girl, who had its first menstruation at 13.