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November 01, 2006

Early Puberty

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Puberty is now hitting many girls by the age of 8. Scientists wonder why.



posted by Michael at November 1, 2006


In 1979, the medical journal The Lancet described an outbreak of breast enlargement among hundreds of Italian schoolchildren, probably caused by estrogen contamination of beef and poultry.

Ah, to have been a schoolboy then! I've never heard big boobs described as symptoms of an "outbreak" before...

Posted by: Agnostic on November 1, 2006 11:15 AM

It's either watching too much TV or Global Warming, isn't it?

Posted by: dearieme on November 1, 2006 12:13 PM

Agnostic -- I've never heard "outbreak" used that way before, but I'm going to start using it myself from now on.

Dearieme -- Or maybe pasteurized milk, or too much websurfing ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 1, 2006 12:20 PM

On pretty much the other end of the lifespan spectrum, it's been said that dead human bodies don't rot as quickly as they used to because of all the preservatives in food. It may be an urban legend, however.

Posted by: Peter on November 1, 2006 12:38 PM

By age 8, almost half of African-American girls and 15 percent of Caucasian girls start developing pubic hair

Ironic, isn't it? Pubic hair is appearing among little girls even as it is rapidly becoming extict (albeit via deliberate intervention) among adult women.

Posted by: Peter on November 1, 2006 12:47 PM

Those who undergo early puberty don't enjoy it much. We ought to be protecting and promoting those wonderful Peter Pan years when we're unfolding, exploring, defying Captain Hook and not afraid of crocodiles. Running in near-genderless packs was great fun and a source of life force. Esp. if you were young enough to go home to Mom instead of some demanding girlfriend or boyfriend.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on November 1, 2006 12:52 PM

I reckon I might cop a lot of heat from this one, so here goes;

I work as a family physician and my colleagues and I all have noticed the same phenomena.
From my own observations it seems to appear that girls from more "strict" families seem to entery puberty later than girls from more "relaxed" families. Also the girls from more strict families tend to dress more conservatively than girls from the other group.

Now it is well known that children who grow up in emotionally damaging environments actually have growth retardation; in other words the environment a child grows in effects their growth.

Is it possible that the more sexualised environment a child grows in, the earlier the entry into puberty? I think it would be worthy of future study.

Posted by: The Social Pathologist on November 1, 2006 3:47 PM

Well, our household is definitely of the messy l1iberal variety, and we gave our daughter plenty of freedom. She reached puberty at 16 and a half.

Posted by: Lea Luke on November 1, 2006 5:11 PM

Of course, no-one considers the environmental impact of female hormones from birth-control pills exiting the human body and entering the environment, getting into the food chain, the water table, etc.

Posted by: anon on November 3, 2006 10:58 PM

What I find interesting is that, after reading the article -- which presents quite plausible real chemical reasons for early puberty -- The Social Pathologist responds by crafting some sort of Lysenkoist theory that liberal thoughts somehow confer puberty on children.

Posted by: anon on November 5, 2006 2:29 AM

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