It emerges that girls are experiencing puberty earlier than before these days – which is believed to be the result of spreading childhood obesity.
A recent study revealed that white girls have their breasts growing since the age of 9 and half these days, while about 20 years ago it occurred at about 10.
Of course with African American girls it’s earlier, they generally have their breasts begin to develop before they turn nine.
U.S. scientists conducted research on over 1,000 American girls observing them at the ages from 6 to 8; their breast development was given special attention, among other factors. Average breast development ages were figured out for girls of different origin.
With African American girls breasts usually start to swell out when they turn 8 years and 10 months. Then come Hispanic girls for whom the breast swelling age hits the 9 years and 4 months mark, whereas for white and Asian girls it comes later, at 9 years and 8 months. For white girls it comes 4-5 months earlier compared to the results of a similar study completed back in 1997.
It was also discovered that the heavier the girl, the earlier she will have her breast developing.
That led Dr Frank Biro and other researchers from Cincinatti Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Ohio, to the conclusion published in the Pediatrics journal that as the obesity rate goes up the breast developing age comes down.
How the onset of puberty and obesity are linked is the point that has not been cleared up satisfactorily yet, but there are some hypotheses.
Oregon State University experts put forward a theory that diet interferes with the body clock and thus produces hormonal changes in the body.
There is also a hypothesis saying that the body, when forced to carry excessive fat, begins to generate hormones that trigger off puberty.
But there are dissentient voices. Denmark’s Dr Anders Juul, who heads the Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, avers that their research shows that obesity has nothing to do with the precocious breast swelling.
In his opinion, earlier puberty is caused by factors like chemical substances in the environment and the amount of exercise.
Studies also accentuate that when maturity sets in too early it may bring along risks for certain types of girls.
Earlier puberty might increase the risk of developing breast cancer or other kinds of cancer owing to a longer exposure of the body to estrogen.
Besides, it can bring on earlier involvement with drugs and substances, alcohol and sex, resulting in poor self-esteem, depressive and anxious mindsets.
Dr Biro reminded that both grown-ups and other kids interact with girls going by their looks. And here we have more and more girls who at 10 look as if they were 14 years old.
Discussing the subject with Reuters Health, he urged parents to look after their daughters who matured earlier than expected – and keep them informed about sex issues.
Whereas Dr Juul’s opinion is that there is nothing to worry about, since the problematic conclusions were drawn from other studies that investigated the onset of girls’ first periods, measurements absent in the study in question.
Dr Juul’s interview with Reuters Health moved the accent from the fate of an actual girl, whose exposure to possible problems depends on how she takes in her puberty, onto aspects that influence our younger generation which need to be assesses and studied properly.