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The Falling Age of Puberty In U.S. Girls

What We Know, What We Need to Know

Girls get their first periods today, on average, a few months earlier than did girls 40 years ago, but they get their breasts one to two years earlier. Over the course of a few decades, the childhoods of U.S. girls have been significantly shortened.

What does this mean for girls today and their health in the future?

The Breast Cancer Fund commissioned ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber to write The Falling Age of Puberty—the first comprehensive review of the literature on the timing of puberty—to help us better understand this phenomenon so we can protect our daughters’ health. The report and an accompanying Advocate's Guide were published in 2007.

Both are available as free downloads:

The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls

Advocate's Guide to the Falling Age of Puberty

What Does Breast Cancer Have to Do With Early Puberty?

We know that early puberty is a known risk factor for breast cancer and other mental and physical health problems.

Possible Contributing Factors to Early Puberty

Like breast cancer, early puberty is influenced by a combination of factors, including obesity, environmental chemicals, inactivity, premature birth, formula feeding and more.

Key Findings From the Report

Our children are not adequately protected from environmental chemical exposures, particularly minority and low-income girls. We must work together to change that.

What We Can Do About the Falling Age of Puberty

Both Dr. Steingraber and the Breast Cancer Fund have made recommendations for scientific, political and personal action. Find them in our Advocate's Guide to the Falling Age of Puberty.

Advocate's Guide to The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls

What You Can Do Personally and Politically

We hope you'll join us in being part of the solution. Learn how.

The production of this report was made possible through generous support from the Heinz Endowments and the Jenifer Altman Foundation. Help fund reports like this by making a donation to the Breast Cancer Fund.