African American Girls

African American Girls

Growing up can be tough on anybody and African American girls are no exception. In fact, growing up seems to be happening at an earlier age for African American girls than for Caucasian girls. The reasons behind this current physiological trend are elusive.

Sexual maturation in African American girls is happening earlier than for Caucasian girls and it seem that prominent theories blame diet, food additives, and stress as the cause. Regardless of the cause, however, life as a little girl with a body functioning like a woman’s has got to be confusing.

In a 1997 study of 17,077 girls aged 3 to 12, three measures of sexual development were measured. The chart below lists the findings as they apply to African American girls and Caucasian girls; the numbers represent the average age of the girls at each stage of development.

African American Caucasian
Onset of breast development 8.87 9.96
Public hair development 8.78 10.51
Menstrual cycle begins 12.16 12.88

In the study, 3% of African American girls as young as 3 showed breast and/or pubic hair development compared to 1% of the Caucasian girls in the study of the same age. By 7 years of age, 27.2% of African American girls and only 6.7% of Caucasian girls had reached this level of maturity. By age 8, almost half the African American girls had achieved this level of sexual maturity compared to only 14.7% of the Caucasian girls.

The typical diet for African American girls is one high in fat from meat and milk sources. The hormone leptin signals the brain to begin puberty once the body’s fat content reaches a certain percentage of overall body weight. The African American girls reach this threshold at earlier ages due to the foods they’ve grown up eating.

Other potential targets are the additives in so many of the foods available today. High levels of hormones, insecticides, and other additives may trigger estrogen-producing processes that hasten the onset of puberty. A diet composed of more raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables, instead of pre-made and packaged foods may offset the leptin production.

Stress is being studied as yet another potential reason behind the early maturation of African American girls. Stress from the early maturation of their bodies, compounded by familial and societal stress factors, may cause the body to mature faster in order to reproduce as soon as possible for the survival of the human race.

This trend of early sexual maturation began about 30 years ago. Records before that time indicate no significant differences between girls of either race.