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Mar 29, 2012

Healthy Living goes through Puberty

The month of March has been dedicated to women. A number of activities have been held around the country under the banner of Connecting Girls; Inspiring Futures. Tonight Healthy Living takes a look at the issue of puberty, which is an important transition for girls.  As early as the age of eight, girls begin to experience the first stages of puberty. In the following segment, the doctor has expert advice on how and what you should tell your daughter about puberty.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The roles & responsibilities of parents are many. In addition to meeting the basic physical & emotional needs of children, they’re also responsible for molding their children into the adults they will inevitably become. This transition begins in the “well known”- but rarely discussed – period called puberty. By definition, puberty is the transformation of a child to an adult.


Dr. Tracy Nicholas, Gynecologist/Obstetrician

“Puberty is the body’s natural process whereby you’re moving from childhood to adulthood and the sole purpose of it is for reproduction and it usually starts between ages eight to thirteen years of age.  In boys nine to fourteen similar but they are a little bit different.”


Tracy Nicholas

As a gynecologist, Dr. Tracey Nicholas meets females of all ages. She shares with us some of the medical explanation as to what parents can share with their daughters about the transition. It may be hard to imagine, but her first advice is to start early. With the estimated age for the early stages of puberty as early as 8, it means parents may need to have the talk as early as seven.


Dr. Tracy Nicholas

“They need to understand simply because it’s going to e quite shocking and they won’t even be able to recognize what’s happening. They play with dolls; they play with their little brothers and sisters and friends. They walk around very underdressed basically, but that is ok. They are a kid. However, in this day and age they’re bodies are changing much faster than their minds are; in truth. It’s best that a parents peaks to them because that’s the person you’re supposed to be most comfortable with.”


According to Dr. Nicholas, waiting till the physicals of puberty appear is just too late. There may be pain, discomfort and confusion for the child as her body changes. This reinforces the need for a casual and comfortable conversation.


Dr. Tracy Nicholas

“They themselves may come to you and say: “Look here mom, this is happening to me” and you say that’s quite normal, when it’s finished you’ll have breast like moms’. This is what happens to you; it’s quite natural.”


As for the changes that can be expected, the earliest stage is the development of breasts.


Dr. Tracy Nicholas

“There have tanner stages that you can actually look at how the breast development occurs, so you have the budding stag, the areola and nipple will come out on top. Then you’ll have the growth spurt; that’s usually finished by the time they are eighteen, but it will start about a year after they begin to have the breast development. Because of the hormonal changes you will have; you’ll have acne development. That’s because you’ll have the oil glands are accelerated response because of these hormones. They get blocked now and then you’ll have all the acne that comes out. Of course that settles when you hormones come out of this rollercoaster that you’re in. Sweat glands increase which means you have to talk to them about showering more frequently; use deodorant if necessary; less moisture in the arm area specifically.”


The hormonal activity also affects your child’s gums and breath; so a check in with the dentist is also encouraged. Even the body shape changes during this time, so explaining that weight gain is to expected will ease some of the child’s anxiety.


Dr. Tracy Nicholas

“You’ll have a change in your body habits you’ll have little bit more in the hips, the thighs and the belly. You’ll have a curvier waistline as you go through puberty. They’ll put on about fifteen or so pounds during that time span but in specific zones at this time.  Usually about two years after you’ve started the breast development you’ll start the menstruation.  I can tell you it’s about age twelve but it really does depend on when you’ve started. So those who’ve started early; it’s much easier to say a year after or a year or two after because it does vary.”


Although eight to thirteen is the average time for the transition, Dr. Nicholas explains that genetics play a role as well.


Dr. Tracy Nicholas

“Genetics does play a role, usually you can look at your mom or grandma and see when they went through puberty and it’s gonna be around the same time for you. We’ve looked in say maybe it’s the food we’re getting that has more hormones that are making us develop earlier even cultures itself. African American versus a Caucasian, the African American, they actually go through puberty a little earlier as well about a year or so, before the others will.”


Puberty is a good time for your daughter’s first visit to the gynecologist to establish medical history and look at the options for HPV vaccinations as well as to administer booster vaccinations. Dr. Nicolas warns, that any child who shows signs of puberty before the age of 8 needs to check in with the doctor, similarly if not yet initiated before thirteen.


Dr. Tracy Nicholas

“Be honest; be casual. Don’t let it sound like something that something serious is going even though you know it is. Even though your little baby is still your baby they’re growing up.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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