London - If you worry that children seem to be growing up fast these days, here’s a little more evidence.

A range of deodorants designed for children as young as eight has gone on sale across the UK.

It seems that many youngsters this age are already starting puberty and facing changes once regarded as more of a teenage concern.

Doctors, however, say it is no longer unusual for girls to start showing signs of maturity, such as sweating, at nine and boys at ten – around two years earlier than in the past.

They are unable to fully explain the phenomenon – but one theory is that exposure to chemicals in the environment, along with processed foods and plastics that mimic the effects of hormones, are triggering puberty sooner.

Other studies have linked earlier puberty with children being heavier or their exposure to artificial light from TV and computer screens. Whatever the reasons, many children, and their worried parents, are dealing with the practicalities of sweating. On some parenting forums, mothers complain their children’s school uniforms have to be washed every day.

But many are just as worried about giving their children adult deodorants after safety concerns about the chemicals they contain.

The new children’s deodorants were developed by Michael and Roberta Harris, from Hertfordshire, who have a background in the pharmaceutical industry. And their products, unlike perfume ranges for babies, could actually be of use. They came up with the idea after noticing their seven-year-old granddaughter had developed body odour. They developed a fragrance-free roll-on for children from the age of eight, as well as a spray deodorant for those 11 to 14.

The range, known as Keep It Kind, has been formulated without aluminium and parabens.

It has gone on sale at more than 600 Boots stores, costing £2.99 (about R40) for the roll-on and £3.29 for the sprays.

Dr Tabitha Randell, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist, said that children who are not going through puberty should not need deodorant.

But GP Tara Caplan, from Northwood Health Centre in London, said there is a place for a product without harsh chemicals.

Dr Caplan said: “In my ten years in practice, it seems that puberty is happening a little earlier and as a result mothers are getting increasingly worried.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable recommending an adult deodorant to a child, as it wouldn’t be suitable for their skin.” - Daily Mail