From Dr. Mercola:
Recent research reveals American girls are hitting puberty earlier than ever before. The median age for breast development is now around 9, with rare cases of extreme precocious puberty occurring in girls as young as 4.
Precocious puberty is triggered by premature release of hormones, which results in sexual maturation, sometimes years before the natural norm. Research into the phenomenon reveals that environmental exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals plays a major if not decisive role.
Interestingly, recent research1 also claims that high sugar consumption — specifically soda — can affect young girls’ rate of maturation. According to associate professor Karin Michels, who studies links between environmental exposures, genetics and disease:
“Our study adds to increasing concern about the widespread consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks among children and adolescents.
The main concern is about childhood obesity, but our study suggests that age of first menstruation (menarche) occurred earlier, independently of body mass index, among girls with the highest consumption of drinks sweetened with added sugar.”
Early onset of puberty has ramifications that go far beyond mere physical changes. Emotions, behavior, mental and physical health can all be detrimentally affected.
While some parents are resorting to drug treatment to keep puberty at bay in their prematurely developing daughters, a more proactive approach would be to limit exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, starting as early before birth as possible, and to address your child’s diet — specifically restricting all forms of sugar as much as possible.
The Ramifications of Early Puberty
Hormones, emotions and behavior tend to go hand in hand, which can lead to distress both in the child and her parents when puberty comes years ahead of schedule. As noted in a recent Newsweek2 article:
“The mother of one 8-year-old wrote that her daughter ‘is a very sexual being. Although she does not by definition understand what ‘sexiness’ means, she exhibits a very particular awareness of her body and wants other people to notice her…’
[N]o matter how physically developed a girl is, her psychosocial maturation remains anchored to her chronological age. ‘These young girls get, let’s use the term ‘hit on,’ by older boys and men and how can they be prepared to deal with it?
Obviously, grown women have a hard [enough] time dealing with unwanted sexual attention,’ observes [Dr. Marcia] Herman-Giddens [professor of public health at the University of North Carolina].
The brain is highly plastic, and stressful experiences like these take their toll. Early-maturing girls are more likely to smoke cigarettes, they are at high risk for substance use, and they have higher rates of eating disorders.”
Precocious puberty is also associated with an increased lifetime risk of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer. For example, one 2013 study3 found that early puberty was associated with a 30 percent higher risk for breast cancer compared to entering puberty at a later age.
Also, for each year that onset of menstruation was delayed, the risk for premenopausal breast cancer was reduced by 9 percent. The risk