The result from the recent studies shows that growing levels of obesity are making some girls start puberty as young as seven.
Experts say the extra fat tissue is encouraging young bodies to produce hormones which kickstart sexual changes. Researchers in the U.S. found that one in ten girls aged seven had developed breast tissue, one of the first signs of puberty. Doctors in Britain supported the research, saying they have treated girls of seven and eight with puberty problems.
Dr Jeremy Allegrove, a consultant paediatrician at the Royal London Hospital, said: ‘We do see girls as young as seven and eight having started puberty. Their mothers say that they are developing very early and will be starting their periods before secondary school. It is only a small amount. I could not say how many.
The U.S. study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is further evidence of a trend which has seen the age of puberty plunge dramatically over the past 200 years. By the 1950s it had fallen from around the age of 15 to 11 or 12.
The researchers from the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco studied more than 1,239 young girls.
They found that almost one fifth of white girls aged eight had reached puberty compared with a third of Hispanics and almost half of black girls.
Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who led the research, said teenage boys may be sexually attracted to very young
girls, who appear older than their actual age, potentially putting pressure on them. We need to understand better all the factors that are contributing to earlier maturation.
There are no figures available for the numbers of seven and eight-year-old girls starting puberty in Britain. However, it is likely that the figure would not be as high as it is in the U.S. because obesity rates are lower here. Earlier this year a Danish study revealed that girls were starting puberty roughly a year earlier than they would have done two decades ago. The researchers, from the University Hospital in Copenhagen, warned that earlier development could lead to increased sexual activity among youngsters.
Although researchers say obesity is the main cause of earlier puberty, other factors may be responsible. Some scientists believe the trend is linked to a chemical called bisphenol A, a plastic found in the lining of tin cans and babies’ feeding bottles. Men with high levels of bisphenol A in their bodies are more likely to have low sperm counts, according to one study.
Anna – Health32.Com