Puberty At Age 7?
An article in last weeks USA Today snagged my attention to an alarming situation that is becoming all too familiar. I had a client who came into see me recently for stress reduction. In the course of our conversation she shared with me her concern that her twin daughters, age 6 where beginning to develop breast. She had contacted their pediatrician and asked if this was something she needed to have checked. They asked her to bring the girls in to be checked assuring her it was probably their normal development, but they wanted to make sure nothing else was going on.
After doing a full exam on the girls she was given some shocking information which was also shared in the USA article I read. In a current study done last year of 1239 girls, 15% of them had reached puberty by the age of 7. It also stated that one in 10 caucasion girls begin developing breasts by that age — twice the rate seen in a 1997 study. Among black girls, 23% hit puberty by age 7.
"Over the last 30 years, we've shortened the childhood of girls by about a year and a half," says Sandra Steingraber, author of a 2007 report on early puberty for the Breast Cancer Fund, an advocacy group. "That's not good." No one seems to be able to find an exact reason or reasons for this change, however, it is believed that the incident of childhood obesity plays a large roll. Also being looked at as a leading cause is the excessive use of hormones found in our foods such as dairy and animal products. The extensive use of plastics in our everyday environment which effects estrogen levels also is thought to play a role.
One interesting fact that the study discovered was that the occurrence of precocious puberty was less in areas with moderate climate. They surmised that this was because it allowed for regular and more abundant opportunities for the children to be outdoors getting exercise from every day activity. For instance, California's percentage was half of those living in Ohio. The researchers also felt that perhaps this was due to California being a more "green" concious state than Ohio. Living "green" and eating organic helps eliminate some of the exposure to chemicals and products disrupting the children's hormonal balance.
Precocious Puberty can be detrimental for a number of reasons. There is reason to believe that females with this disorder will have a higher risk of breast cancer. Also it has been shown that children who experience this have lower self esteem and poor body image. Because of this, researchers are concerned that this may lead to early sexual behavior. Considering how young these children are their lack of maturity added to the early sexual behavior will more likely result in more unplanned pregnancies.
Another symptom of this disease is abnormal growth patterns. The child tends to grow rapidly at a young age and then slows drastically causing overall stunted growth. This can cause significant clumsiness as well as distorted muscular structure issues.
If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing symptoms of precocious puberty please call Dr. Laura Asher to schedule a consultation and hormonal testing. There are natural remedies that can be used to slow the process or correct it when caught soon enough.