Something doesn't seem right about hitting puberty before you hit 11 or 12. But it's happening! More and more young girls are entering puberty earlier than ever before. The study shows a significant increase in puberty among girls as young as 7 or 8-years-old.
Scientists believe that the cause of this early development may be increasing obesity in young girls and increased exposure to environmental chemicals.
Obesity is a factor, because body fat actually produces estrogen. The increased amount of estrogen in obese children may be what is triggering puberty in these very young girls.
The cause could also be environmental. BPA (bisphenol-A), an endocrine-disrupting chemical, is found in plastics and phthalates, which are present in many personal-care products.
The study was conducted with many young girls of varying ethnic backgrounds. While there was some variation among ethnic groups, a notable shift to early puberty was seen across the board.
Should we be worried?
It may be too soon to tell. However, scientists are worried that longer exposure to estrogen (that's levels dramatically increase in sexual maturity) will increase the risk of breast cancer in these individuals.
- Puberty Hits Girls As Young As 7 (HuffingtonPost)
- Study: Signs of Early Puberty in More Young Girls (TIMES)