Why is precocious puberty harmful? The keys to understanding and acting on this growing phenomenon

Instances of precocious puberty have increased significantly over the past decades, although there are no statistics which reflect the exact extent. However, pediatricians note that this is a reality in their daily clinical practice.

A study from Granada has just found an association between the pesticides and this phenomenon affecting one in 5,000 or 10,000 girls or boys. (with particular prevalence among them). But there are other causes, such as overweight or microplastics and chemical productswhich can disrupt hormonal processes. These are some key points of this problem.

Why is precocious puberty harmful?

According to the endocrinologist-pediatrician of the Central University Hospital of Asturias (in Oviedo) Isolina Riano, for two basic reasons. ” THE first of all, at the onset of puberty, growth plates close and the children end up with a very short stature,” he explains. But the other reason is “psychological”. “To have the body of a mature woman and the mind of a girl is not psychologically good, he said.

“Furthermore, we know that in the patients with breast cancer, one of the antecedents is having had her first period very early. This does not mean that girls with very early periods will get breast cancer. But it means the opposite: sick women with breast cancer had their first periods very early,” she says. Nicolas Olea, Professor of medicine in Granada and researcher of the Inma project, which studies the role of environmental pollutants during pregnancy and in early life, as well as their effects on the growth and development of the child.

What are the signs to watch out for?

In girls, the appearance of “breast button”, according to the endocrinologist-pediatrician of the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital (Eslugues de Llobregat) Lourdes Ibanez. “In itself, it must be because of a medical consultation, before menstruation, which comes later,” she explains. Precocious puberty often occurs in girls on around the 8 years, and in children (as genital growth or public or axillary hairiness), around the age of 9.

What can be done about this?

According to Riaño, if the cause of precocious puberty is endocrine disruptors (chemicals, e.g. parabens, found in some gels and cosmetics), they need to be “removed” and “avoid exposure to these substances”.

“I have seen in my practice patients with signs of precocious puberty who were using… such substances. If they used them recently, removing these signs gone. If it goes on for a long time, it can lead to precocious puberty, and it can lead to is no longer reversible, he points out.

But there is specific treatments for some cases. ” They are puberty stoppers which are administered through a injection. It does not occur in all cases, but only applies to very young children with developmental puberty,” says Dr. Ibáñez.

What do pediatricians see?

The perception is that menstruation comes earlier. “As a doctor, I have the perception that menstruation comes more and more between the ages of 10 and 11, and before that, she was at 12 and 13″, explains the endocrinologist. Carme Valls Llobet, who studied the relationship between precocious puberty and microplastics.

Why are cases of precocious puberty on the rise?

According to Dr. Ibáñez, in addition to pesticides and microplastics, being overweight, which is more prevalent than before, is also a key factor in the increase in cases of precocious puberty.. “Birth weights are A little lower and there is then a greater tendency to be overweight. This change can lead to the onset of puberty. earlier, between 8 and 9 years old”, says this doctor from Sant Joan de Déu.

Early puberty is not “pathological”, but it’s not “completely normal” either. ” There is environmental pollutants, situations of stress in many children… We should probably take better care of them. In the time of covid, he says, there were studies in Italy that claimed that the number of cases of precocious puberty has doubled during or following the pandemic.

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