Doctors and researchers have learned that a growing number of African-American girls are wearing bras, growing underarm and pubic hair, and using tampons as early as the third grade. This is causing concerns for the medical profession because early puberty, marked by menstruation, is a clear indicator of high risk sexual activity and future breast cancer diagnosis.
In a newly released study funded by the San Francisco based Breast Cancer Fund, “The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls: What We Know, What We Need to Know” written by Sandra Steingraber, evidence has been found that girls who get their period early are at risk for the following:
- psychological anxiety because peers have yet to reach puberty
- eating disorders
- more prone to use alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
- heightened chance of sexual and violent abuse
- early sexual initiation
- lower grades
Researchers have cited several factors for early puberty in African-American girls such as obesity, which is an endocrine disruptor, environmental toxins and excessive hormones in foods, the absence of a father, but presence of a mother (evolution says when a girl is around her father, she reaches maturity later), as well as watching too much T.V., which sends overly targeted, sexualized messages to children as young as 8. These messages then become internalized in children’s brains and trigger puberty.
While the jury is out on the definite reasons for early puberty, it is known that girls who are lean and are physically active reach puberty later than their peers who are overweight and nonactive.
For more information, download the free paper: “The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls: What We Know, What We Need to Know,”