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At What Age Do Children Start Needing Deodorant?

The traditional answer to this question has been that children will start to experience body odor when they hit puberty and their bodies start to experience hormonal changes. In fact, according to our pediatrician, body odor in young children can be a warning sign of early onset puberty which is a medical condition requiring treatment. However he also assured us that unless other signs of early puberty are present, a child’s body odor is usually nothing to be worried about.
Do see your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

From my personal experience and from that of friends and family, it does seem to be the case that children are experiencing body odor at earlier and earlier ages. I know of no medical research being done on the subject, so speculation as to the cause is purely conjecture.We do know our environment is full of endocrine disrupting chemicals and man-made environmental estrogens found in pesticides,industrial chemicals, household products, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. We also know that our food is becoming less and less natural, more refined and increasingly adulterated with preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and cheap non-food fillers and additives. These factors could very well contribute to earlier body odor in children.

Interestingly on a recent trip to China, we discovered that not everyone in China has body odor, and if you do have it, it is considered a “symptom” and not a normal occurrence. We also learned that some ethnic groups have more of an issue with it than others. It is a very embarrassing topic to the older generation, most of whom do not experience body odor. However the younger generation is more open to talking about the issue because body odor is increasingly more common among their peers. We were also told that some people are so shy about the “symptom” that they are too embarrassed to purchase deodorant or antiperspirant in the store. We believe that the same causes, ie the westernization of the traditional Chinese diet and increase in environmental toxins, are to blame in the increasing occurrence of body odor in the Chinese population.

Kaitlin Hammond
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