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Children's Health

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How Early Is Too Early for a Girl to Enter Puberty?


"But it's the very, very early developers who stand to lose more with untreated early puberty," he says. "The younger they are, the more they stand to benefit in terms of improvement in adult height."

Jasmine's growth was relatively slow until the past year, so her parents opted to hold off treatments for a while, her mother says. "We didn't want to subject her to monthly injections that could last from her fourth to her 10th birthday -- six years," she says. She's just had her seventh birthday -- and her first injection. Not a fun experience, her mother says. "She's still a little girl. ... She hates needles," she says.

Kaplowitz says that some doctors are overprescribing Lupron to appease anxious parents. "Lupron is wonderful for 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds who are maturing very rapidly," he tells WebMD. "But there are a lot of kids who are 7 to 8 years of age who are receiving this drug and would probably do just fine without it. The drug costs $6,000-10,000 a year, plus you have doctor visits for the monthly injections. Plus, there are visits to the endocrinologist every three months."

But parents worry, too, that early-blooming daughters will get too much attention from older boys. They worry about giving sex education to a 7-year-old. And for many, it's just plain disturbing to see physical signs of puberty in a 4-, 5- or 6-year-old.

"Jasmine is already feeling embarrassed about what's happening to her," Henderson says. "She's the tallest person in her class, ... yet she still acts like a little girl. ... I'm nervous because she has started growing little breasts, and they're noticeable because she's slender and tall. ... Her period must not be very far away."

In fact, it was the thought of her daughter possibly beginning menstruation while just in second grade that convinced Henderson to start the Lupron injections, she tells WebMD. Jasmine will have them until she reaches 10 or so, when many girls start their periods. "Her breasts will disappear," her mother tells WebMD. "We just needed to slow her body down a little."

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