It has been noticed that girls these days are hitting puberty sooner than those of generations in the past. And although they are getting their periods and developing breasts at an earlier age, their emotional and intellectual developments have not changed much.
A book focusing on the topic of early puberty was written by two doctors. Biological, environmental and socioeconomic factors influencing puberty were looked at as well as whether or not puberty at an early age influences a girl’s chances of developing breast cancer.
The book stated how early puberty is associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression and earlier sexual behaviors. This finding was based on a study that follows 444 girls. The girls first started being studied in 2005 when they were between the ages of 6 and 8.
Before the study was conducted, it was believed that less than five percent of girls hit puberty before being eight-years-old. Hitting puberty means any of the following:
- Breast development
- Pubic hair
- Getting a period
What was so shocking was that 15 percent of the girls who were seven-years-old had breast development, while 27 percent of them who were eight had breast development too. And in regards to pubic hair development, 19 percent of girls who were eight had it, and 10 percent of them who were seven had it. And it does seem that race plays a part in early puberty. 25 percent of black girls had signs of puberty at age seven, while only 15 percent of Hispanic and 10 percent of white girls did.
It is believed that BPA may be one the culprits for causing early puberty. This weak form of medical estrogen is used in plastics and paper. This means from notebook paper to receipts, girls are touching BPA on a regular basis, which might be leeching into their bodies, thus causing the early onset of puberty. More studies are needed to confirm this theory.
Another theory is that antibiotics used in processed foods might be speeding up puberty. After all, such antibiotics are used in animals to speed up their growing process so they will be available for slaughter at an earlier age. If this happens in animals, it’s realistic that the same ‘speeding up’ process may occur in kids too.
The important thing to remember is that even though girls are hitting puberty at an earlier age than what they used to, they should not be sexualized in any manner. They are still young girls who not too many years before were toddlers. For parents who have questions or inquiries about early puberty, reading The New Puberty book will be of great help.