Volume 5 Issue 2

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 79

Page 24 | Abby's Magazine - No one knows what happens when a developing fetus or young child is exposed to hundreds of chemicals, many of which mimic your body's natural hormones and can trigger major changes in your body even as an adult, let along during the most rapid and vulnerable periods of development (in utero and as a young child). Reaching puberty is a rite of passage that we've all been through, but children nowadays are reaching it earlier than ever before -- a trend that has both health experts and parents alarmed. Precocious puberty, which is the appearance of secondary sex characteris cs like pubic hair or breast growth before age 8, or the onset of menarche before age 9, impacts at least 1 in 5,000 U.S. children, and the rate is on the rise. Even in the last three decades, children (par cularly girls) are maturing at younger and younger ages (precocious puberty is 10 mes more common in girls than in boys). Puberty, Once the Norm at Age 15, Now Occurring in 7-, 8- and 9-Year-Olds In the 19th century the onset of menstrua on occurred around the age of 15. Now the average age of the first period, or menarche, is around 12. The me during and before puberty is one of rapid development and change, which is why even months ma er when it comes to first menstrua on. Before menstrua on, girls will show beginning signs of development, such as breast "budding" and growth of pubic hair. These signs are now becoming unse lingly common among 7-, 8- and 9-year-old girls, to the extent that many health care providers, rather than labeling these children with a diagnosis that something is wrong, have simply changed the defini on of what's normal... but is it really "normal" for girls to mature at such a young age? Precocious PUBERTY There are more ques ons than answers in the case of precocious puberty, but what is certain is that girls are developing earlier than they have even 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Early puberty can set the stage for emo onal and behavioral problems, and is linked to lower self-esteem, depression, ea ng disorders, alcohol use, earlier loss of virginity, more sexual partners and increased risk of sexually transmi ed diseases. There is also evidence that suggests these girls are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer, later in life. Environmental Chemicals a Likely Factor Scien sts have brought forth a number of poten al explana ons for the rising rates of early puberty, but one that deserves special a en on is environmental chemicals, and par cularly estrogen- mimicking, "gender-bending" chemicals that easily leach out of the products that contain them, contamina ng everything they touch, including food and beverages. BPA is, unfortunately, but one example. Others include phthalates, a group of industrial chemicals used to make plas cs like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient. They're also one of the most pervasive of the endocrine disrupters, found in everything from processed food packaging and shower curtains to detergents, toys and beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deodorants, and fragrances. Other environmental chemicals like PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the pes cide DDT) may also be associated with early sexual development in girls. Both DDE and PCBs are known to mimic, or interfere with, sex hormones. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), found in non-s ck cookware, also falls into this dangerous category, as does fluoride, which is added to the majority of public water supplies in the United States. Research showed that animals treated with fluoride had lower levels of circula ng melatonin, as reflected by reduced

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Abby's - Volume 5 Issue 2