Patt Morrison For April 4, 2012

Is early puberty for girls the new ‘normal?’

Children's Hospital Class Aims To Help Youth With Obesity Issues

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Zoe McCoy, 9, stands atop a scale as her mother Clarisse Gonzalez shows her how much she weighs on November 20, 2010 in Aurora, Colorado.

Studies have shown that girls are developing breasts earlier and that has some researchers befuddled because early breast development is one of the three indicators that signal the beginning of puberty.

So when the other two indicators, pubic hair and the first period, are absent, what does it mean and what’s causing the phenomenon? Obesity is a causal factor – overweight girls are more likely to start puberty early. Diet is also suspect… some studies have shown that exposure to estrogen-like compounds in food have led to early puberty. These “estrogen mimics” include the compound BPA, and 93 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies. Stress caused by family strife has also been shown to lower the age of the onset of puberty.


What are the causes of early puberty in our nation’s children? And can – and should parents fight what may be a new ‘normal?”


Dr. Josh May, pediatric endocrinologist, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center

Peggy Orenstein, journalist; author, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture”

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