An interesting new study shows that American girls are actually hitting puberty earlier than they used to – a change that is causing more risks for behavioral problems as adolescents and breast cancer as adults.
The findings, published in Pediatrics magazine, show that about 15% of 1,239 girls showed the beginning of breast development by the age of 7. The new study doesn’t explain why girls are developing earlier. It did show that heavier girls with a higher body-mass index were more likely to begin puberty earlier. Since one third of children are overweight in America today, early puberty trends may be related to the obesity epidemic.
Hitting puberty early has many ramifications. It increases the odds that girls will develop low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression. Girls who hit puberty earlier are more likely to attempt suicide and to be sexually active earlier.