For mothers worried about their girls growing up too fast, early puberty may be the reason your little one looks more mature than you did at her age. Studies show that modern teens are hitting puberty as early as 8 years old, a shocking contrast to the average pubescent age of 16 in the early 1900s.

Coping with early puberty affects children mentally and physically, and parents of these children are advised to monitor them with care. The emotional and psychological impacts of puberty can cause children to feel more self conscious about their developing bodies and cause mood swings. Children going through early puberty have also reported that family members, friends and adults treat them differently because they look older. For a young child, these pressures can have negative affects on their performance in school and on their ability to maintain healthy relationships with peers.

Although many factors of puberty are related to genetics, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce the odds that your daughter will hit puberty at an early age. Exercise and a low-fat diet are key since most studies find a strong link between obesity and early puberty. By incorporating more fresh fruits and veggies into your child’s diet, you also help her to avoid BPA, an estrogen-like chemical found in canned and processed foods. A recent study found that families who ate fresh, unpackaged food reduced levels of BPA by 66%. Lastly, avoid pesticides in your food and home by shopping for organic foods and not wearing shoes inside of the house that can track in harsh chemicals from the lawn.