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9th August 2010

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study reveals girls budding breasts as early as 7 years old

i hate to say it, but the folks at british department store primark might have been onto something: a new study shows that today more girls now than ever may start developing breasts as early as 7 or 8 years old.

but how is this possible? well, there may be any number of culprits. as obesity rates climb ever higher and waist sizes grow ever wider, overweight girls could stand a chance at growing nubbins earlier as body fat can produce fat hormones. reseachers also believe that there are environmental chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen, thereby speeding up the effects of puberty—but this is still just a theory as this hasn’t been entirely proven.

aside from the shock of seeing a second or third grader boasting a set of breasts, this finding—naturally—has adverse effects. first, studies suggest that a higher risk of breast cancer has been linked to girls who start to menstruate at an early age. while this new study didn’t specifically address menstruation ages, breast growth is a surefire sign of hormone exposure—and early breast development may also mean an increase in cancer risk.

then there is the issue of a little girls psychological and emotional well-being as she is forced to deal with a body that appears to be more advanced than her mentality is prepared for. hormone-spiked emotions, sexual impulses, advances from men—these are not things a 7 or 8 year old girl should have to face.

the new york times notes that during the 19th and 20th centuries, the age of puberty dropped, which was believed to be linked with an improvement in nutrition and health concerns disapated with cures for diseases like smallpox, scarlet fever, and the like were found and preventative measures were taken to keep people from getting sick. the drop in age then was seen as progress, but i can’t help but think that if girls are to keep “progressing” will human mortality rates drop, with lifespans—at least women’s—regressing to pre-Victorian era numbers? but that’s just my two cents there.

"many doctors accept the idea that heavier girls often develop earlier. And subsequent studies have also found that black and Hispanic girls mature earlier than whites, even when weight is taken into account. No one knows why. Though breasts may be sprouting earlier, the average age of first menstruation, between 12 and 13, has not really changed." 

though the average menstruating age seems to remain the same, the study did clock in astounding numbers in early breast development. out of the 1,239 girls (ages 6 to 8) monitored in the study (about 30% white, 30% black, 30% hispanic, and 5% asian), 10.4% of the white girls under observation, 23.4% of the black, and 14.9% of the hispanic girls had enough breast development to be considered at the onset of puberty as early as 7 years old, while at age 8, the figures were 18.3%, 42.9%, and 30.9% respectively.

i don’t want to make these numbers compute.

Tagged: breastspubertynew york timesscary findings

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