Puberty can be a confusing, worrying and upsetting time for children, with this anxiety compounded when onset occurs at an early age.
In 1920, girls were typically around 14 years of age when puberty commenced, compared to just 10 in 2010*. This early (or precocious) puberty has been found by multiple studies to be an increasing phenomenon throughout the Western World, with dietary and environmental factors largely identified as the root cause.
For the 2014 child, puberty is likely to commence between 8 and 15 years of age. The stimulation of sweat glands by puberty hormones (and the resulting body odour) is one of the first signs of maturity, and can invite ridicule from other children at school - particularly following morning sports activities, or on a warm summer's day. Rapid growth spurts, psychological changes (moodiness and aggression) and behavioural changes are also common characteristics.
In terms of the bigger picture, research published by the universities of Bristol and Cambridge in 2011 suggested that girls who are affected by early puberty are more likely to experience depression. Prolonged oestrogen exposure may be linked to a greater risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and of developing cardiovascular problems. It also holds implications for the development of Type 2 diabetes. Premature surges of testosterone, meanwhile, can lead to aggression in boys too young to have any idea how to moderate their behaviour.
In most cases, puberty (even when premature) is a natural process, with no need for concern. However, for a minority of children, there is an underlying cause which can be treated by medication prescribed by your GP. To treat body odour - one of the first signs of maturity - use a natural deodorant which will be gentle on your child's skin, like Crystal Spring's Rock Chick. Scent-free, easy to apply, and with pretty, girly packaging, Rock Chick is perfect for your child to use in the school changing rooms without attracting unwanted attention.
* Study by Plymouth University and Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, July 2014 - http://www5.plymouth.ac.uk/news/study-links-obesity-in-the-young-to-lowering-of-the-age-of-puberty