I’m Trying To Keep My Daughter’s Period Away With Hormone-Free Food

Thanks to exposure to hand soaps that contain xenoestrogens and hormones in our food supplies, kids as young as six years old are starting to reach precocious puberty, especially girls. As a mom to an 8-year-old, the idea of her getting her period or breasts within the next year scares me to death so I try to do everything I can to limit her exposure to hormones in food and chemicals in our household products that have been shown to accelerate puberty.The simple fact is I’m probably not doing enough.

We can purchase organic milk and meat products, shop at farmer’s markets for produce, and encourage our kids to exercise but even that may not help.

From Fox News:

The FDA currently allows six hormones in the food supply, including estradiol, estriol, testosterone and progesterone – the sex hormones that can accelerate the age at which puberty occurs.  The obesity epidemic plays a role as well. Estrogens are made and stored in fat tissue – increasing exposure in overweight and obese children.

And, of course, toxins found in everyday products can be a culprit as well. Household products like hand soap, shampoos, cosmetics and cleaning products contain chemicals – namely parabens – that are known as xenoestrogens and can mimic estrogen in the body, increasing the likelihood of early puberty.

Precocious puberty can start exhibiting symptoms in kids as young as six or seven, and as of 2010, two times as many girls were experiencing early puberty compared to a decade ago. In my home I’m careful about parabens in my cleaning products and growth hormones being used in meat, but it’s amazingly difficult to ensure that my kid is never exposed to things that may make her mature before what we all consider the “normal” puberty onset age range of sometime between nine and 14 years old. But now puberty before the age of 10 is being considered the ” new normal” for many parents.

From the NY Times:

In the late 1980s, Marcia Herman-Giddens, then a physician’s associate in the pediatric department of the Duke University Medical Center, started noticing that an awful lot of 8- and 9-year-olds in her clinic had sprouted pubic hair and breasts. The medical wisdom, at that time, based on a landmark 1960 study of institutionalized British children, was that puberty began, on average, for girls at age 11. But that was not what Herman-Giddens was seeing. So she started collecting data, eventually leading a study with the American Academy of Pediatrics that sampled 17,000 girls, finding that among white girls, the average age of breast budding was 9.96. Among black girls, it was 8.87.

One of the main risks associated with true precocious puberty is advanced bone age. Puberty includes a final growth spurt after which girls mostly stop growing. If that growth spurt starts too early in life, it ends at an early age too, meaning a child will have fewer growing years total. A girl who has her first period at age 10 will stop growing younger and end up shorter than a genetically identical girl who gets her first period at age 13.

And, of course, it’s not just little girls who are being affected by this, but young boys who are developing pubic and facial hair long before they have lost interest in Legos. Some kids are going to develop at a faster rate than other kids. It’s normal. But when discussing precocious puberty most doctors agree that most girls can’t mentally handle getting their periods before age ten, they have a greater risk for low self-esteem and an increased risk for early sexual behavior. Girls with precocious puberty also have an increased risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer because these girls have more time to be exposed to the estrogen hormone.

I’m not a doctor or a scientist (all though I think I should really get a lab coat so my children take me more seriously when I’m reprimanding them about helmet safety) but I am a concerned parent who does what I can in my own home to limit my kid’s chances of being exposed to craptastic chemicals that may cause them to develop before their doctor feels they are ready. Some things I try and do in my own home include:

Reading labels: Try and use personal care products that don’t contain a gigantic laundry list of chemicals including phthalates and paragons. You can find the safest options at the Cosmetics Safety Database.

Shop locally and organically whenever possible. All though new studies suggest that organic food may not be any healthier than conventional food, in my own opinions it’s better to be safe than sorry. My own kids are allowed to eat fast food on occasion, but I try and limit this to a once-monthly occurrence. I have tried to incorporate more meatless meals into my own kid’s diets, and when they are served meat I try and make sure it isn’t filled with a gazillion antibiotics and growth hormones.

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  • Guest

    Do you guys edit before posting? It’s “ensure,” not “insure.” “Although,” not “all though.” It takes away from the credibility of the post when it has egregious errors like this.

    • Koa Beck

      Thank you for catching!

    • GPMeg

      There are several others that give me a bit of a facial tic– I love this site and the pieces, but I would encourage editing buddies or group editing before they go up! Even the best writers make mistakes, and you’re very unlikely to catch mistakes in your own writing,

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Thank you!

  • Guest

    Hormone-free food? Good luck with that. All plants and animals contains hormones. In fact, many types of produce (broccoli, cabbage) have many times the amount of estrogen than you will fine in one hormone implanted beef or dairy animal. You are free to feed your child however you want for whatever reason, but let’s not spread misinformation.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      It’s very confusing. I just tried to give links coupled with my own opinions about what I do personally. ” All though new studies suggest that organic food may not be any healthier than conventional food, in my own opinions it’s better to be safe than sorry”

  • March

    Don’t panic.

    It MIGHT happen, but chances are still really slim. Just look around – how many children have you ever actually seen that display signs of precocious puberty? Do you have first-hand information about more than one case of precocious puberty?

    Do not panic. Much more importantly, try not to scare your kids about this. Be reasonable, be critical of what the media say, and for the love of your brain stop thinking that Fox News is a reliable source of information.

    Good luck!

    • CW

      Actually, I have noticed that quite a few girls in my oldest’s social circle started developing at 8 or 9. The big culprit seems to be obesity. I can’t think of any skinny girls who entered puberty prematurely.

    • Annie

      Starting to develop at 8 or 9 is normal. Usually when the child is overweight, it is fat, and not so much the glands. It is like when a man develops “man boobs”, it is from fat.

    • anjealka

      My daughter has never been in above the 25% for her age, for years she was in the 5-10% for weight. She is one of the shorter, skinner girls in 5th grade. She has also been a vegetarian by choice for 4 years, and I’m careful that her milk, produce and protein come from the healthiest sources. She started puberty when she was about to turn 9 and got her period right before age 11. None of the stereotypes applied, she is active, thin, comes from a 2 parent home, I started my period at 13, she didn’t have a huge growth spurt, her doctor said starting puberty for non obese kids at age 8/9 is within normal limits these days, that 10 is average.

    • HS

      I suggest you take a visit to a local elementary or middle school and then revisit this article. Children are huge nowadays, and not just in a obese kind of way. It’s very common for young girls to start sprouting boobs in 5th grade and be generally big-boned. Walking into a high school is like walking into a Senior year class in a college. And it’s not just girls. Boys are affected by it as well.

  • CW

    No mention of one of the biggest culprits in introducing estrogens into the environment- hormonal contraception? Hypocrisy, thy name is Mommyish…

    • HS

      Men use medicines with testosterone which are also introduced into the environment. Men who use penis enhancers can also affect children in the home just through exposure on clothes, chairs, etc. This is a woman’s website so the articles are geared towards females but let’s not place all the blame on women.

  • Josephine

    I went through precocious puberty. I got my first period when I was 9 and I had to wear a bra for a while before that. I always felt ugly and gross for being much larger and more developed than most girls my age. I was also bullied a lot because of it. Its very smart of you to take these precautions against it because it can save your daughter the awful experiences I had to deal with growing up.

  • Lindsey

    Eve, I did the same thing with my daughter but I started her on organic milk, meat, and veggies at 2. I had also read about the possible link between hormones in food and early onset of puberty. I don’t know if it made a difference (she started her period at 12 which is within the normal range) but I know one thing; it didn’t hurt her.

  • Karen

    My mother never filtered our food or resisted Fast Food for me and my siblings. We didn’t have to play outside everyday or anything like that. & I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that but I started my period at 11 (same as my mom and her mother before her), got the first stage of boobs at 12 and didn’t fill out completely until almost 16. My youngest sister was the same too for the most part. We weren’t affected by how we were raised and I was actually chubby when I first hit puberty.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Wow. Paranoid, much?

  • Annie

    I started puberty at 8. My family knew because my chest was more tender than usual. But that is normal. I didn’t get my first pubic hair for a good 1 1/2 to 2 years later. And it wasn’t until I was 11 1/2 that I got my first period. My period came right when I hit about 100 lbs (which is the same for many girls.) Even then, it is normal. My mom got her first period when she was 14, which is on the later side, and she didn’t start puberty until 12 or so.

    My mom never paid much attention to what I was eating, as long as it was healthy for me. The big food category you have to be careful with, is soy. Soy is very high in hormones, and therefore is not the best for kids (try whole dairy). And that includes soy beans.

    • C.J.

      My friend just took her daughter to the doctor. At 8 the child already has breasts. Her doctor told her the same thing about soy. He told her to avoid soy products because of the high hormone levels in it.

  • Michelle

    That article says organic food doesnt have any more nutrients than non-organic. It never mentions chemical and pesticide residue. Another sensational media story.

  • Melody

    I started my period when I was 10, and although my memory is a little fuzzy, I know that I had breasts by then. They were small, but I am a pretty small person. I was not overweight, so that wasn’t the reason. I was one of the first girls in my class to start puberty but almost all of my friends quickly followed within a year. Now my daughter is 7 and a few months ago she started forming breast buds. She also started developing BO around age 5 and has since needed to wear deodorant daily. Her doctor told us that it’s probably hereditary since her father and I were both early bloomers and nothing environmental, but I still want to try to limit the amount of hormones she ingests. I remember worrying about forming curves earlier than all my friends and thinking I was getting too fat when I had little hips in 5th grade. Now my worry is that my daughter will be made fun of for the BO. It’s weird to have to remind my 2nd grader to put on deodorant every morning. She was made fun of one day at camp by a little blonde girl (my kids are all darker) for having too much leg hair. I feel like I almost worry more what the other kids will say to her than whatever medical ramifications come from precocious puberty.

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  • Second Guest

    I notice that you thanked someone for mentioning your editing oversights, but didn’t fix all of them. Namely, ‘although’ is one word.

  • KazaD

    We are fairly hormone free in our house and my daughter still developed pubic hair and breast buds at the age of 8, started her period earlier this year at 11 and she’s also very tall (always has been) for her age at a whopping 5’7″. Sometimes it’s just nature. I started my period at the age of 12.5 and my mum didn’t start until she was 15.

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