Friday, April 15, 2011

Tweens, First Periods, Designer Pads and the New York Times

We were a bit shocked to read the article in today's New York Times, "A Younger Group For Feminine Products". The article, which ran in the Times' Advertising column, focused on Kotex's launch of a new line of feminine products for tween girls called "U by Kotex Tween" and their corresponding websites for girls ( and for moms (

According to Kotex' research, girls are getting their first periods as young as age 8 (which was the part that shocked us) - according to the "Journal of Adolescent Health" in 2007, the average age for first periods was 12.4 years old, and cited in the New York Times article is the medical journal "Pediatrics" which found that 15% of girls in the U.S. have their first period at age 7. We could not find that study in "Pediatrics" but did find a study in "Pediatrics" from 2006 that stated that only 10% of girls have their period by age 11 and that "studies have confirmed that a higher gain in body mass index (BMI) during childhood is related to an earlier onset of puberty."

The website for moms is educational and features Dr. Lissa Rankin, a gynecologist and author of “What’s Up Down There?: Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist if She Was Your Best Friend.” Dr. Rankin says, "A lot of moms have a hard time even talking to their own peers about this issue and have to get over their own embarrassment so they can have a candid, fun and supportive conversation with their daughters." The website for girls features written accounts of girls dealing with their first periods and a section to ask questions (which ironically requires users to verify that they are at least 13 years old - which we understand is necessary for COPPA compliance but is at odds with a website directed at tweens). We appreciate that both sites offer content that is focused more on education and less on product sales.

Kotex is also apparently running an online design contest to make pads more fashionable; the winner gets to meet fashion designer Patricia Field.

Other recent articles on medical studies and tween health are here:

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