Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Signs of Puberty

Question: My 11-year-old daughter has been developing breasts since she was in the 3rd grade. She now shaves underarm and wears deoderant, she creams her legs (I don't want her to nick her legs shaving)- and she's had pubic hair since last year. Oh, about a month ago she informed me she was discharging white (no smells or color to her discharge), I also noticed a light brown line going from her belly button to her pubic area, aside from almost becoming a young lady, what does the light brown line mean and her discharge? I'd know what to tell her if her discharge had some pinkinsh/reddish color, but, i'm at a loss here. Belle

Answer: The signs of puberty are present. These include hair growth and wearing deodorant (all normal due to hormonal changes). Puberty may normally start as early as age 7, as in your daughter's case.

Adult body odor and breast development usually occur in the first stages of puberty. This is followed by hair growth in the pubic and armpit area.

In females, as normal puberty advances, further hormonal changes cause an increase in vaginal discharge. These vaginal secretions are the result of normally rising levels of estrogens and progesterones (two major hormones responsible for puberty in the female). Unless infection is present, vaginal discharge should be almost odorless with color being clear or white (as you describe). Prior to actually starting menstruation, you may notice a change in color (sometimes pinkish as you stated). This is also normal.

The light brown line you notice from the belly button down, is also due to hormonal changes (mainly the progesterones). Again, this is normal. In pregnancy, this line may become very pronounced. It is called "linea negra." Again, those silly hormones!

If there are no other problems, you can comfortably tell your daughter not to worry. You too MOM! Remember that genetics plays a very important role in the timing of puberty.

Dr. Betti

Also see:

  • Plantar's warts
  • Is it safe for an 11-year-old to use tampons?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions
  • Recently asked questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.