5 Stages of Breast Development

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As you grow from a girl to a woman, your breasts grow and develop. Doctors divide breast growth into five stages as shown in the below image. Look at the image and you then can compare your body to the drawings of the give stage. See if you can figure out the stage you are currently in.

Stage 1: Childhood

Stage is the childhood stage, before puberty begins. The breasts have not started to develop. The nipples are the only raised part. Otherwise, the breasts are flat.

Step 2: Breast Buds Develop

The breasts start to develop during Stage 2. A small, flat, button-like bu forms under each nipple. It contains fat, milk gland and tissue. The breast bud raises the nipple making it stick out from the chest. The areola gets bigger and is wider than Stage 1.

Some girls read this stage when they are only seven or eight. Other girls don't start Stage 2 until they are nearly fourteen years old but most girls reach this stage when they are eight and a half to eleven years old.

Stage 3: Development Continues

Breast development continues during Stage 3. The breasts become larger. The areolas also continue to get bigger. They stand out more from the chest. You may notice that the nipples, too, are getting larger. In this stage, the breasts are adult in shape, but they are smaller than they will be when you are an adult.

Girls usually reach this stage when they’re ten to thirteen years old, but some girls reach Stage 3 when they’re younger than ten or older than thirteen. Stage 3 may last a few months or as long as two years.

Stage 4: Nipple and Areola Form Mound

In Stage 4, the areola and nipple continue to enlarge. They form a separate little mound on the breast. They stick out above the rest of the breast. Figure 15 shows the difference in the nipple and are ola in Stage 3, Stage 4, and Stage 5. The breasts are often “pointy” or cone-shaped in Stage 4.

Some girls skip Stage 4 and go directly to Stage 5. Some never develop beyond Stage 4. Still other girls develop a raised mound again in Stage 5.

Girls often reach this stage when they’re twelve to fourteen years old, but as with the other stages, many girls reach Stage 4 at ages that are outside this range. Stage 4 may last anywhere from eight months to two years.

Stage 5: Adult 

In Stage 5, the nipple and areola no longer form a separate mound on the breast. This is the adult stage. The breasts are fully developed. However, some girls’ breasts do con tinue to grow somewhat even after they’ve reached this stage.

Even though the breasts have reached their adult size, they may not be very large. In fact, some grown women have breasts smaller than the ones shown here.

Most girls reach Stage 5 between the ages of thirteen and six teen, but some girls reach this stage when they’re younger than thirteen and others when they’re older than sixteen.

Pubertal Development and Ethnicity

Pubertal development varies considerably by ethnicity. For example African American girls have pubertal onset up to one year before Caucasian girls and Asians appear to mature later than Caucasians. Few studies of the psychosocial aspects of puberty have included samples of multiple ethnic groups. Studies that have compared puberty-related effects in African Americans versus Caucasians have generally observed ethnic differences. In general, the associations between pubertal status or pubertal timing and psychosocial factors are smaller in the African American samples.

It is useful to examine effects both within different ethnic groups and across groups. In examining effects of ethnicity it is also important to consider differences in Socio Economic Status (SES). A recent study reported that apparent differences in age of onset of puberty between Caucasian and Latino girls was no longer apparent after controlling for SES.

If psychological changes at puberty are ethnic-group specific, does this suggest a greater role for sociocultural factors and a lesser role for biological factors in understanding psychosocial changes at puberty? Or are there ethnic differences in the biology of puberty? There are no clear answers to these questions. Although it is unlikely that the biological basis of puberty differs greatly between ethnic groups, biological effects of puberty may be dependent on cultural context. The effects of hormones or their downstream effects may be critical in one social environment but minimal in another.

Finally, we need to understand what it is about ethnic differences that lead to findings that vary across ethnic groups. What is it about African American girls that appear to make them less vulnerable than Caucasian girls to the negative effects of early pubertal timing? Ethnicity is a construct that needs to be “unwrapped” before we will understand the meaning of the differences in the psychosocial correlates of puberty by ethnic group.

Puberty FAQs

PUBERTY is a very important, very exciting time in your life as you go through so many changes on your way to becoming an adult. Along with the transformation your body is undergoing, many other things in your life are changing, too. For example, your relationships with your parents and your friends may be different now than when you were younger, and people may treat you differently. Also, the way you look at things is probably not the same as it used to be. Of course, you have lots of questions.

I at this Puberty101 Blog have created this FAQ page to give you the answers to many of those questions - information that can help you grow up healthy and happy. You can also turn to your parents, your doctor, and other trusted adults whenever you need more information, guidance, or help. With more facts, you can make even better decisions to keep yourself safe.

In this FAQs section of Puberty101 Blog, you will learn how to deal with common concerns teens have, such as acne, menstrual cramps, weight issues, etc. You will learn why it’s so important, even at your age, to eat a healthy diet and to be physically & sexually active.

I wish you a good health on your journey into adulthood!

Puberty FAQs - [Last updated on 30th October 2011]

What if I’m not happy with how my breasts look?
My breasts are not the same size. Is that normal?
What are Breast Buds?