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A large number of girls are reaching puberty before the age of 10, much earlier than their previous generations, reveals a recent study conducted by Danish scientists.
The average age of breast development in girls is now 9 years and 10 months, almost a year earlier than a previous study conducted in 1991, thus making it difficult for them to handle sexual development while still in primary school, claims the study which surveyed the breast development in a group of 1000 girls. "We were very surprised that there had been such a change in a period of just 15 years," Anders Juul, head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction at the University hospital in Copenhagen, told The Sunday Times of London. Poses problems for girls Besides making them prone to diseases like breast cancer [abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. ] , early puberty also exposes the girls to several other teenage problems due to before age maturity. It leads to early exposure towards oestrogen, which can trigger breast cancer and heart dysfunctions. “All the things we experience as teenagers are difficult enough to cope with, but when it happens at 10 or 11 it is much worse,” he said. “These children are also at a much higher risk of being sexually abused because it is hard for some adults to understand and behave appropriately towards them.” Moreover, girls acquiring early puberty earlier usually become an object of humor in classrooms and sports sessions. “I had to wear a bra at 9,” said one girl, who did not want to be named. “I used to pretend to be ill to get out of changing for PE. “The worst part was men coming on to me as though I was an adult when actually I was 11.”
Suspected reasons Though no definite cause has been revealed behind the phenomenon, many researchers believe that chemicals, including hormones [chemical substances created by the body that control numerous body functions.] in food and obesity are potential reasons for the onset of early puberty in small girls. For example, Bisphenol A and several other artificially produced chemicals are suspected to trigger early maturity. A link between high meat consumption and earlier puberty in girls was brought out by a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition last. Forty nine percent girls who ate meat 12 times a week at the age of 7 had reached puberty by the age of 12 1/2, compared with 35% of those who ate meat four times a week or less, reveal researchers at Brighton University. Also children nowadays eat more junk than the earlier generations and thus are obese which is another factor leading to puberty.