“Puberty Before Age 10: a New ‘Normal’?”

Puberty Before Age 10: A New ‘Normal’?

By ELIZABETH WEIL

Published: March 30, 2012

One day last year when her daughter, Ainsley, was 9, Tracee Sioux pulled her out of her elementary school in Fort Collins, Colo., and drove her an hour south, to Longmont, in hopes of finding a satisfying reason that Ainsley began growing pubic hair at age 6. Ainsley was the tallest child in her third-grade class. She had a thick, enviable blond-streaked ponytail and big feet, like a puppy’s. The curves of her Levi’s matched her mother’s.

Elizabeth Weil will discuss this article and other issues regarding early-onset puberty on The Times’s Facebook page at 3 p.m. E.S.T. on Monday, April 2.

“How was your day?” Tracee asked Ainsley as she climbed in the car.

“Pretty good.”

“What did you do at a recess?”

“I played on the slide with my friends.”

In the back seat, Ainsley wiggled out of her pink parka and looked in her backpack for her Harry Potter book. Over the past three years, Tracee — pretty and well-put-together, wearing a burnt orange blouse that matched her necklace and her bag — had taken Ainsley to see several doctors. They ordered blood tests and bone-age X-rays and turned up nothing unusual. “The doctors always come back with these blank looks on their faces, and then they start redefining what normal is,” Tracee said as we drove down Interstate 25, a ribbon of asphalt that runs close to where the Great Plains bump up against the Rockies. “And I always just sit there thinking, What are you talking about, normal? Who gets pubic hair in first grade?”

For the rest of the article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/magazine/puberty-before-age-10-a-new-normal.html?_r=1

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