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What can my daughter do to relieve breast pain?

Unfortunately, breast pain or discomfort is common in adolescent girls. It usually happens in cycles and occurs just before she menstruates. Research has shown that this pain can be increased if a girl drinks anything with caffeine in it, whether it's coffee, soda, or an energy drink. (And, as a further incentive not to use cigarettes, you should let your daughter know that smoking also tends to increase breast pain.)

A breast surgeon I know tells his patients who experience breast pain to avoid caffeinated products, chocolate, and peanuts; to use over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen[1] and ibuprofen[2] as needed; and to wear only well-fitted, supportive bras. That's good advice for all of us women. (Except for the "no chocolate" part, of course.)

What are signs of breast problems in my daughter?

Once your daughter develops breast buds, she may experience nipple discharge. This is usually caused by irritation to the area, or by an elevated level of the hormone prolactin[3]. Increased hormone levels may be the result of medications your daughter is taking or by a growth on her pituitary gland[4]. Therefore, if your daughter experiences nipple discharge, you should take her to your pediatrician to be evaluated.

Your daughter may also develop a mass in her breast, even at a young age. Thankfully, the vast majority of these growths are completely benign. Although a trip to the doctor's office is necessary to evaluate the mass, biopsies of the area are greatly frowned-upon by doctors because of the risk of damaging a girl's breast bud. In almost all instances, the masses resolve themselves, remain without causing any problems, or disappear with the use of antibiotics.

One thing you can feel good about is the fact that breast cancer[5] is extremely rare in adolescents. In fact, studies show that from 1998 to 2002, the incidence of breast cancer in females below the age of 20 was 0 cases for every 100,000 people. That's right; zero cases. Now, that doesn't mean it never happens, but it's not something that you should spend your time worrying about.

When should my daughter start wearing a training bra?

Your young daughter may initially be oblivious to her own breast bud development. For instance, she may put on a clingy shirt and yet have no idea that it's accentuating the breast buds that have seemingly sprung up overnight. That's a good time for you to gently suggest it's time for her to wear a training bra.

At first your daughter may resist the idea. However, eventually she'll grow accustomed to the notion that she ought to wear a bra on certain occasions, such as when she has physed at school. She'll realize that the extra support makes her more comfortable during running and strenuous activities. (She'll also learn that

In fact, studies show that from 1998 to 2002, the incidence of breast cancer in females below the age of 20 was 0 cases for every 100,000 people.

sweaty shirts can make breast buds look as if they magically grew.) Before long you'll be off shopping together, looking for a new bra.

Donna says:

I have a daughter who is 11 years old who started wearing white camisoles under her shirts/blouses at age 6. Once I realized that she started to develop breast buds at the age of 9, and they were noticeable under her shirts, she and I sat down and discussed this phase of her adolescent development. I explained to her that when she wears certain shirts, you can tell she is developing breasts and it was time for her to start wearing a training bra. She and I spent a day together and went shopping for her first training bra. There were a lot of choices and it can be overwhelming for a young girl. I measured my daughter's chest before we went out to purchase a training bra. This helped to give us an idea on what size training bra to start with and made her feel more comfortable with the process.

  • [1] A common over-the-counter medication used to decrease pain and reduce fevers. This medication is helpful for headaches and menstrual cramps. A common brand name is Tylenol.
  • [2] A commonly used over-the-counter antiprostaglandin medication that helps menstrual cramps. Two common brand names are Motrin and Advil.
  • [3] A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates breast milk production.
  • [4] A gland in the brain that is responsible for producing various hormones.
  • [5] An abnormal growth of cells that impairs normal body function. Also known as malignant tumors, these growths can occur in almost any organ system.
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