Young At Heart: Girls Hit Puberty Younger

While puberty used to occur around age 15 or 16, it has been occurring at younger ages over the last few decades. New research shows that girls in the U.S. are developing earlier than ever, a possible trend that is associated with a number of health risks. The study was led by Dr. Frank Biro of Cincinnati Children”s Hospital Medical Center. The subjects included over 1,200 6- to 8-year-old girls in Cincinnati, New York and San Francisco.

As part of the study, researchers used a standard measure of breast development to determine which girls had started puberty. About 15% of the girls showed the beginning of breast development at age 7, which is a higher percentage than was found in a study of U.S. girls done in 1997.

When puberty starts to begin before the age of 8 it is sometimes referred to as precocious puberty . The problem with precocious puberty is that a young girl may not be psychologically ready for the changes that occur. It can be very difficult on a young girl to develop breasts, pubic/underarm hair, and begin menstrual bleeding before her peers. Puberty occurs when no deposit online casino the body begins to produce large amounts of sex hormones. Early puberty in girls is linked to a greater risk for developing eating disorders and depression. As adults, these girls are at greater risk for developing breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and high blood pressure.

The researchers don’t know why girls are developing earlier, but increasing rates of obesity may be the reason. Earlier studies determined that overweight girls are more likely to hit puberty earlier. Another theory suggests that environmental toxins or exposure to estrogens could influence early breast development. The researchers are collecting blood and urine samples to analyze the girls’ exposure to such chemicals.

The authors will continue monitoring the girls to determine when the rest of them reach puberty. They note the need for a larger, more nationally representative sample. This study may lay a foundation for future research that determines why more girls may be maturing faster.

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