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Parents of Girls: Do You Worry About Early Puberty?

I read an article in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday, The Incredible Shrinking Childhood by Elizabeth Weil, which addressed the issue of precocious (read: early) puberty and the fact that it is becoming the new normal.

I found it terrifying.

In oversimplified terms:

Girls are going through puberty earlier now than ever before.  There is nothing medically wrong with these girls.  Except that they are going through puberty earlier than is medically accepted.

So what’s the problem?

Puberty is associated with bone age. So if a girl goes through puberty at age 7, she will go through a final growth spurt and then stop growing.

But besides the height issue, there are other troubling issues associated with early puberty.

Such as the link between early periods and breast cancer.

Such as social problems.

The article states that “girls who develop ahead of their peers tend to have lower self-esteem, more depression and more eating disorders.  They start drinking and lose their virginity sooner.  They have more sexual partners and more sexually transmitted diseases.”

A study published in 2010 revealed that at age 7 (7!), 10% of white  girls, 23% of black girls, 15% of Hispanic girls and 2 % of Asian girls started puberty.

Experts say that some of the girls test high for estrogen, but it is not their own estrogen, produced by their ovaries, but rather estrogen  from the environment.

Shouldn’t we all be concerned about that?

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