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Early Puberty Epidemic

Early Puberty Epidemic

I came across this article yesterday and it really got me thinking. I used to buy mostly, if not all, organic products. As of lately, I have been buying more of a mix (conventional & organic). The cost of buying only organic was just getting to be too expensive. I wonder if there is any truth to the rise in early puberty epidemic being a result of all of the things we are putting into our children’s bodies. I am very interested to see what you guys think…thoughts???
http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/early-puberty-epidemic.html

Comments

  1. Thanks for bringing up an interesting topic Shelley! I love pondering this stuff. I have a few thoughts:

    1. First we have to keep in mind the agenda of that website. I read their take on the article (what they are referencing is an article in the journal Pediatrics that came out in 2010). It’s a bit skewed to say the least, so I always try to find a more neutral party when it comes to interpreting a study, or read the study itself.

    2. That site stresses it as an early puberty epidemic, but an important point is that breast development (what the study measured) is not ALL of puberty – very many of these girls may go on to start their periods at the same age (ie, no earlier just b/c they started breast development – can’t say for sure, and they didn’t measure that).

    3. As far as I know, the age at first period (called menarche) has not changed in recent years. It steadily declined from the 1800s to the 1950s but has held steady since. This is probably related to better diets – girls ate better food and reached a weight that would be able to carry a pregnancy sooner so to speak, so periods came earlier. But not much change since then (who knows how it will change in the future though).

    4. The author of the study herself notes that obesity and being overweight were definitely linked to earlier puberty. I think this is definite take home point – 69% of American adults over 20 are overweight or obese (2011-12 data)!! Fat cells increase the amount of estrogen in your body, and with the extra fat you reach that baby-carrying weight sooner. If you want to stress over one thing, this is it!

    5. BPA, estrogenic compounds, etc: Can certainly play a role. Minimizing exposure is probably smart. But I doubt it’s going to surpass obesity as the cause for early puberty. More studies need to tease this out.

    6. Organic vs conventional produce: I think this is the least of the issue. The main problem is that so few kids and adults eat enough of ANY produce – so until we have more data about organic pesticide levels (which aren’t measured…), I would not let this worry you. I’d take the $$ you save on conventional produce and spend it on household chemicals without parabens, BPA etc.

    Take home: Very interesting article, but very slanted view! Eating healthier and being a healthy weight are some very simple fixes that we know scientifically will help our kids, in so many ways!

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  2. Dr. Kristie wrote a great article on premature thelarche (early breast development) and obesity is highlighted here (as Dr. Jen mentioned) if you’re interested in further reading: http://www.bundoo.com/articles/premature-breast-development-in-preschoolers/

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  3. Thank you both for your feedback. I do try to buy household products that are free of parabens when possible. Dr. Lincoln, you make a very good point in #2 and I totally would have never thought of that. I just hear so much about all of the chemicals we are exposing our kids to and unfortunately most of the time we don’t even realize it. For example, the recent article regarding spray sunscreens. It would have never crossed my mind that our children were breathing in these chemicals, when we actually thought we were simply protecting them from the harmful effects of the sun. Therefore, when I see articles like this I tend to get a little worried. It’s reassuring to know that the article has a very slanted view. Thanks for your feedback!

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    1. You’re welcome! I agree, sometimes it seems everything we do is soon followed by an article/media coverage of “How ___ is so dangerous!” It can certainly make life stressful – and knowing what sources are unbiased can sometimes be VERY hard. However I think you are on the right track with keeping your eyes and ears open!

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