Why Are Teenage Girls Maturing Earlier? Don't Blame Milk!

A recent Facebook posting from an old friend got me thinking; why do our daughters seem so much older than we did at that age? I mean, we can’t blame it all on Brittany Spears, Facebook and fashion trends.

“You know, it’s all the hormones they give cows these days; it’s crossing over into milk and that’s what’s making our girls mature so much faster and grow so much bigger,” my friend, Corinne wrote. I’ve heard that before.

There is a lot of misinformation out there on various websites and no shortage of opinions and food-purchase recommendations made by well-intentioned, but untrained (in the world of food science) fitness gurus, people like Jillian Michaels of "America’s Biggest Loser." Jillian has managed to leverage her gig as a tough fitness trainer into a multi-million-dollar health and fitness empire. I think she’s credible when it comes to sculpting chiseled abs. I mean, look at that woman! (, but offering nutrition advice?

Knowledge in one area doesn’t necessarily translate into credibility in another. So, just because Jillian Michaels writes, “Organic free-range dairy tastes better and has no antibiotics or hormones and more omega-3s,” it doesn’t mean it’s scientifically proven.

According to Stephanie Clark, PhD, a much-published food scientist who specializes in dairy production at Iowa State University, there is NO SUCH THING as ‘hormone free milk.’ She says all milk has hormones; organic, conventional, grass-fed or corn-fed, you name it. In fact, Dr. Clark says even plantshave hormones ( Dr. Clark says well-intentioned marketers who are in the business of selling their product for a few pennies more are making a lot of health claims out there; we have to wade through the spin to find the science.

So, I asked, why are teenage girls today so much taller and maturing earlier than in “our day”? (“When dinosaurs roamed the Earth” as my 13-year-old likes to say!) Clark says that yes, we probably can, in some respect, look to food for that growth spurt; it’s because we have better nutrition than our ancestors and better access to improved vaccinations and health care.

It’s clear: milk has so many nutrients, protein and amino acids, that no matter what kind you pick at the grocery store, it’s important that you pick it, period. As the second-most-regulated and inspected food item in your grocery cart (next to seafood), you can rest assured that milk is a healthy choice for your family. I think we should all drink to that…..

Written by Laurie Johns
Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.