Puberty is the name for the time when your body begins to develop and change as you move from kid to adult.
We’re talking about stuff like girls developing breasts and boys starting to look more like men.
In many countries, children mature earlier these days. The age of puberty or menarche in the United States fell about 0.3 years per decade from the mid-1800s (when girls had their first menstrual period, on average, at age 17) until the 1960s, according to a 2003 study in the journal Endocrine Reviews. It also suggests better nutrition, health and economic conditions often play roles in lowering the age of puberty.
Today the average age of puberty in U.S. girls is about 12.8 to 12.9 years. The onset of puberty, however, is defined as the time when a girl’s breasts start to develop. In the United States, it is 9.7 years for white girls, 8.8 years for black girls, 9.3 years for Hispanic girls and 9.7 years for Asian girls.
CAUSES OF PUBERTY
Many causes of early puberty are somewhat unclear,
· girls who have a high-fat diet and are not physically active or are obese are more likely to physically mature earlier;
· Exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogen (known asxenoestrogens) is a possible cause of early puberty in girls;
· BPA, Bisphenol A, a xenoestrogen found in hard plastics, has been shown to affect sexual development.
· A tumor in the brain or spinal cord or a defect in the brain present at birth, such as excess fluid buildup (hydrocephalus) or a noncancerous tumor (hamartoma)
· McCune-Albright syndrome — a genetic disease that affects bones and skin color and causes hormonal problems
· Congenital adrenal hyperplasia — a group of genetic disorders involving abnormal hormone production by the adrenal glands
· Hypothyroidism — a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones
CHALLENGES OF EARLY PUBERTY
Early sexual development warrants evaluation because it may:
1. induce early bone maturation and reduce eventual adult height;
2. indicate the presence of a tumor or other serious problem;
3. cause the child, particularly a girl, to become an object of adult sexual interest.
4. Studies show that girls who mature earlier are more likely than those who mature later to develop high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes later in life.
5. Early puberty additionally puts girls at a "far greater" risk for breast cancer later in life.
6. Early puberty also puts girls at a higher risk for teasing or bullying, mental health disorders and short stature as adults.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your child’s doctor for an evaluation if your child has any of the signs or symptoms of precocious puberty.
Signs and symptoms in girls include:
· Breast growth
· First period (menarche)
Signs and symptoms in boys include:
· Enlarged testicles and penis
· Facial hair (usually grows first on the upper lip)
· Deepening voice
Signs and symptoms that can occur in boys or girls include:
· Pubic or underarm hair
· Rapid growth
· Adult body odor
KEY MESSAGE FOR PARENTS: While you cannot do much about Genetics, you can take a few actions that can mitigate early puberty.
· Cut out plastics and other chemicals/additives, colors, preservatives and processed food from your kid’s diet
· Helping children control their weight is suggested to help delay puberty.
Source: Livescience, Wikipedia, Mayo and Other