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Early Puberty in Girls—What Do We Know in 2022?

      I remember 1997. Early puberty was THE topic of discussion among pediatric and adolescent gynecologists, adolescent medicine physicians, and pediatric endocrinologists. That year, Marcia Herman-Giddens published the landmark study entitled “Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice: a study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network.” The study included the findings that at age 8, 48.3% of African American girls and 14.7% of white girls had at least 1 sign of pubertal development, earlier than was suggested in standard pediatric textbooks.
      • Herman-Giddens ME
      • et al.
      Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice: a study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network.
      I was fascinated by the findings, as well as by the design of the study itself. The study enrolled over 17,000 girls ages 3-12 seen by a research network of 225 primary care clinicians for well-child visits or problem-focused visits that would require a complete physical examination; a remarkable 99.4% of eligible girls were enrolled in the study. These clinicians were trained in the assessment of pubertal characteristics and documented enrollment and Tanner staging. WOW—huge numbers, and findings that were surprising to some clinicians. As a pediatric and adolescent gynecology (PAG) clinician, I had many requests from the press to comment on these findings. The New York Times Health section featured the study with the headline, “Early Puberty Onset Seems Prevalent.”

      Gilbert S: Early puberty onset seems prevalent. The New York Times 1997 April 9

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      References

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        • et al.
        Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice: a study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network.
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