Posts Tagged ‘ menstruation ’

Puberty Coming Earlier for U.S. Girls

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

A new study has confirmed what many have observed–that American girls are hitting puberty and younger and younger ages.  Reuters has more on new research that attributes the drop in the puberty age to a rise in childhood obesity, among other factors:

Researchers found African American girls started getting breasts just before they turned nine, on average. Among white girls the average age was about nine and a half – a few months earlier than in the 1990s.

The findings “confirm an ongoing downward trend in pubertal timing among U.S. girls,” said Dr. Anders Juul.

“It’s been worrying for the U.S. as well as the rest of the world,” Juul said. He heads the Department of Growth and Reproduction at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, and wasn’t involved in the new report.

The data come from a long-term study of more than 1,200 girls in and around San Francisco, Cincinnati and New York City. Girls were enrolled in the study between ages six and eight and followed with annual or semi-annual visits.

At each visit, staff assessed breast development using Tanner stages, which measure how far along a young person is in puberty.

African American girls first showed signs of breast development at eight years, 10 months, on average. That compared to nine years, four months among Hispanic girls and nine years, eight months among white and Asian girls.

For white girls, puberty hit about four months earlier than in a 1997 study that also measured breast development. That study concluded girls were entering puberty earlier than in the past.

Heavier girls tended to start developing at younger ages. Rising obesity rates seem to be a “prime driver” behind breast development starting earlier, Dr. Frank Biro and his colleagues wrote Monday in Pediatrics.

Still, Juul’s own work has suggested obesity isn’t behind earlier breast development among Danish girls.

Researchers said how much exercise girls get, diabetes precursors and chemicals in the environment that can mimic hormones may all play a role in pushing up the onset of puberty.

“One of our challenges is going to be, there are literally hundreds of chemicals that could be candidates,” Biro said. He works in the adolescent medicine division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

Where girls live, meat and dairy in their diets and family stress have also been tied to earlier development, Marcia Herman-Giddens wrote in a commentary on the report. She studies maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study didn’t look at when girls started getting their periods, or at other measures of puberty.

The researchers said maturing at a younger age could come with long-term risks for some girls.

For instance, those who hit puberty earlier could be at higher risk of breast and other cancers because their bodies spend more years making and being exposed to estrogen.

They also tend to start having sex or using drugs and alcohol at younger ages and are more likely to become depressed or develop low self-esteem.

“You’ve got a 10-year-old who looks like a 14-year-old. We interact with kids based on the way that they look,” Biro said. “Kids interact with each other that way also.”

Is your child bound to be a doctor or a fashion designer? Take this quick quiz and find out. Plus, do you know which sick kid symptoms you should never ignore?

Image: Girl with acne, via Shutterstock

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Diet May Help Ease PMS Symptoms, Study Finds

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Premenstrual syndrome, which leaves many women retaining water and feeling moody, may be managed by a diet that contains the proper balance between iron and potassium, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.  More from The New York Times:

Using data from a larger analysis of women’s health, researchers studied 1,057 women with PMS and 1,968 control subjects. They used questionnaires to establish their nutrient intake, both food and supplements, and established cases of PMS by clinical diagnosis.

After controlling for various health and dietary factors, they found that women in the highest 20 percent for iron intake were about 40 percent less likely to suffer PMS as those in the lowest 20 percent.

The study, published online in The American Journal of Epidemiology, found the opposite effect with potassium. Those in the highest 20 percent of intake had a 46 percent increased risk for PMS compared with those in the lowest 20 percent. There was no risk associated with intake of magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper or sodium.

The senior author, Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts, cautioned women against taking too much iron, or consuming too little potassium, both of which can be harmful. “Eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods,” she said, “is a good way to ensure that women are consuming important vitamins and minerals.”

The Institute of Medicine recommends that women ages 19-50 get 18 milligrams of iron each day, and that all adults consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily.  Iron-rich foods include beef, egg yolks, and dark leafy greens; potassium is found in bananas, baked potatoes (with skin), and white beans.

Image: Dark leafy greens, via Shutterstock

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