girls with higher body mass index, may start developing breasts more than a year before their thinner friends — perhaps as early as second grade.
The study tracked 1,200 girls ages 6 to 8 in three cities — San Francisco, Cincinnati and New York — from 2004 to 2011, carefully documenting their BMI and their maturation process. The girls who are obese are clearly maturing earlier. White girls are maturing about four months earlier than in a landmark 1997 study. Other recent studies have shown that puberty may be starting earlier in boys, too.
About 17 percent of U.S. children and teens, or some 12.5 million kids, are obese, according to the CDC. On average, black girls start breast development at age 8.8, Hispanic girls start at age 9.3 and white and Asian girls start at about age 9.7.
WHY IS IT BAD?
Those who hit puberty earlier could be at higher risk of breast and other cancers because their bodies spend more years making and being exposed to estrogen. They also tend to start having sex or use drugs/alcohol at younger ages and are more likely to become depressed or develop low self-esteem.
Rising obesity rates seem to be a main driver behind early breast development and puberty. Watch your child’s BMI carefully.