Posts Tagged ‘ puberty ’

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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Dermatologists Adopt Treatment Guidelines for Childhood Acne

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Children as young as seven years old are receiving more frequent diagnoses of acne, recent research on which has prompted a group of pediatric dermatologists to establish a new set of treatment guidelines to help these young patients.  The new guidelines were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s summer meeting, and they call for aggressive and early treatment to minimize the physical and emotional scarring that can be associated with acne, especially when it comes on at an early age.  More from NBC News:

Doctors believe it’s likely linked to earlier onset puberty, which causes hormones called adrenal androgens to start increasing, triggering pimples to erupt sooner on these young faces.

Dr. Andrea Zaenglein, a co-author of the new treatment recommendations, estimates that she now sees around 10 or 15 new cases of pediatric acne every month.

“The principals of therapy for adolescent acne and pre-adolescent acne are exactly the same,” says Zaenglein, who this week presented the information at the American Academy of Dermatology’s summer meeting. “You want to treat it as aggressively as you need to, to get it under control.”

Most of these younger children have mild acne – mostly a spattering of whiteheads and blackheads, called comedones, on the forehead, nose and chin. In these cases, the recommended treatment is an over-the-counter product containing benzoyl peroxide; if that doesn’t work, a combination therapy involving benzoyl peroxide, an antiobiotic and/or a retinoid may be prescribed.

There’s a glimmer of an upside here: In cases of kids with acne, the parents are more likely to be more heavily involved, making sure their child sticks to the treatment prescribed by their dermatologist. But Zaenglein points out that while parents of teenagers know to watch out for skin problems, it may not occur to parents of younger children that this is a problem that may require professional care.

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Acne Affecting Kids as Young as 7

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Acne, once the affliction of the pre-teenager, is now affecting younger children, according to new treatment guidelines published this month in the journal Pediatrics.  The New York Times reports:

In years past, 12 was considered the lower end of the age range for the start of blackheads and whiteheads. With earlier onset of adrenarche (when the adrenal gland awakens) and menarche (first period), the authors of the guidelines suggest, “there appears to be a downward shift in the age at which acne first appears.”

“I’ve definitely seen a shift,” said Dr. Latanya T. Benjamin, a dermatologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, who did not help draft the guidelines. “It’s not uncommon for a 7- or 9-year-old to walk in with the first signs of acne.”

But whether children are experiencing early, or precocious, puberty has been the subject of scientific debate. A more likely cause of the increase in cases, some experts say, is that parents are less tolerant of acne and doctors more willing to provide powerful acne treatments to children.

Image: Girl covering her face, via Shutterstock

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Tags: , , | Categories: Child Health, Trends

Boys Experiencing Early Puberty

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

A growing number of American boys are experiencing the changes associated with puberty at an earlier age than in the recent past, in a trend that echoes what girls have been experiencing, according to a new study published in the journey Pediatrics.  From CNN.com:

In the study, lead author Marcia Herman-Giddens from the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health and her colleagues show that boys are starting to sexually develop six months to two years earlier than medical textbooks say is standard.

This research has been a long time coming. Herman-Giddens first documented early puberty in girls in 1997, and several studies have since backed up those findings.

One of the reasons it took so long to do a comprehensive study on early puberty in boys, Herman-Giddens said, is that the onset is more difficult to identify. For girls, breast development and the start of a menstrual cycle are obvious clues. For boys, the onset of puberty comes in the form of enlarged testes and the production of sperm.

Researchers responded: ” ‘Yikes, we don’t want to ask about that!’ ” Herman-Giddens said with a laugh.

But ask they did — 212 practitioners across the country examined more than 4,100 boys aged 6 to 16. The practitioners recorded information on the boys’ genital size and pubic hair appearance.

Image: Tween boy, via Shutterstock

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No Football Tackles Before Age 14, Neurosurgeon Says

Monday, October 1st, 2012

A new book written by a neurosurgeon advises that tackling in football and heading in soccer should not be allowed until children are 14 years old and are showing signs of reaching puberty.  The reason for the recommendation is that those practices are believed to cause concussions that can lead to developmental, learning, and other health problems as children grow.  From CNN.com:

“If kids don’t have axillary (underarm) or pubic hair, they aren’t ready to play,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon at Emerson Hospital in Massachusetts and author of a new book, “Concussion and Our Kids.”

“And I have absolutely no problem with parents who want to hold a child out for longer, say 16 or 18.”

No tackling? No body checking before 14?

Heading a soccer ball before 14 in soccer might be sacrificed — if studies eventually bear out the debatable link to concussion — but tackling and body checking essentially define football and hockey.

In Cantu’s words, “These are sports in which smashing into your opponent isn’t just a possibility — it’s the object of the game.”

And there is some substance behind the argument for waiting until 14, says Cantu, not the least of which is protecting young, developing brains. At 14, he says, several things enhance the body’s ability to protect against head trauma.

Before 14, there is a size disparity between the head and the body, causing what concussion experts call a “bobble-head” effect — the head snaps back dramatically after it is hit.

“Our youngsters have big heads on very weak necks and that combination sets up the brain for greater injury,” said Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.

However, around age 14, a child’s skull is about 90% the size of an adult’s, and the neck and body are strong enough to steel the head against the force of a blow, according to Cantu. The more developed the neck muscles, the less dramatically the head (and thus the brain) is rocked after a tackle or a body check.

Image: Child with football, via Shutterstock

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