Allan H. Shoemake/Getty

DCL

I remember being one of the last of my friends to get my period. It was totally embarrassing and even today I have difficulty telling people how old I actually was. By today's standards I would have been considered an alien when I finally got my first period at age 15. I wish I'd known back then that it was actually a good thing.

Kids today are hitting puberty earlier than ever before. The EPA and National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences concluded that girls are getting their period earlier and developing breasts at a younger age and that's at least partly due to environmental changes. The study also found that premature puberty can lead to all sorts of issues down the road including a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, breast cancer in girls, and a heightened risk of testicular cancer in boys. According to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health the average age for girls getting their first period has declined from age 13.3 in 1920 to 12.4 in girls born after 1980. Though early puberty can be somewhat hereditary, there are also some environmental aspects that parents can and should control to keep kids from growing up too young.