Mothers and scientists are wondering if it's something in the food. Pollution maybe. Societal factors - exposure to racy television shows, fashion trends...
The bottom line - should we be worried about our young girls?
Dr. Paul Kaplowitz, chief of endocrinology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., contends:
"The explanation for which there's the most evidence is that it's
related to the trend in increasing obesity," he says. "There are other
factors, such as if your mother matured early. Sometimes we simply
don't know. But overall, the biggest single factor is the trend toward
obesity." Fatty tissue is a source of estrogen, so chubbier girls are
exposed to more estrogen.
"With environmental influences, there has been a lot of speculation, but little hard data. I'm not suggesting there's no connection, but it's very hard to say there's a proven connection. I think it's environmental mainly in the sense that overeating and lack of exercise is environmental," Kaplowitz says. "I've tried to take the view that we shouldn't be alarmed about this."
Experts also worry that younger development leads to longer estrogen exposure which can increase the chances of breast cancer.
It is suggested that a young girl who shows signs of breast development under the age of eight should see a pediatric endocrinologist.
If you'd like more information, an essential guide even, to the common problem of early puberty in girls and perhaps are seeking ways to cope with this issue, please pick up Dr. Kaplowitz's book, "Early Puberty in Girls: The Essential Guide to Coping With This Common Problem."
Dr. Kaplowitz, pediatric endocrinologist, has been named one of the Best Doctors in America since 1998. He is the author of more than 50 scientific papers and review articles, mostly in the areas of short stature, growth hormone deficiency, and precocious and delayed puberty. He is also the author of two books: Early Puberty in Girls, and The Short Child. He practices in Washington, D.C.