Puberty is a stage of development that we all go through at one time or another. However, many young boys and girls are reaching puberty years before they should, leaving scientists searching for answers.
Many doctors believe that precocious puberty is happening at a much higher frequency than before, since the 1990’s. In turn, a number of factors have been dubbed as the root cause for precocious puberty, including hormones in foods, chemicals in our water supply, chemicals in our food, and other forms of contamination. Some have even gone as far to say that our modern day lifestyles are to blame, but what is really going on?
According to the New York Times, it is likely that environmental chemicals are to blame.
” …animal studies show that the exposure to some environmental chemicals can cause bodies to mature early. Of particular concern are endocrine-disrupters, like “xeno-estrogens” or estrogen mimics. These compounds behave like steroid hormones and can alter puberty timing.
For obvious ethical reasons, scientists cannot perform controlled studies proving the direct impact of these chemicals on children, so researchers instead look for so-called “natural experiments,” one of which occurred in 1973 in Michigan, when cattle were accidentally fed grain contaminated with an estrogen-mimicking chemical, the flame retardant PBB.
The daughters born to the pregnant women who ate the PBB-laced meat and drank the PBB-laced milk started menstruating significantly earlier than their peers.”
Unfortunately, that would mean that every child would be at risk, due to the fact that each and every one of us has been exposed to a number of chemicals. BPA has been said to be especially harmful, as it proves to be a major endocrine disrupter that can be found in a number of household goods, including baby bottles, water bottles, toys and a number of other plastic products.
Other scientists are leaning towards a different thesis, and believe that childhood obesity could be a major risk factor for precocious puberty. As the rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last three decades, more and more children are reaching puberty earlier than ever before. And while many would not be concerned with this disheartening trend, early puberty could prove harmful, especially to young girls. Basically, it would mean that they have a prolonged exposure to estrogen, due to the fact that the ovaries begin to produce estrogen when a young girl starts her cycle.
Another thesis states that an increased intake of animal protein could be to blame. High protein intake elevates hormone levels and promotes growth, which in turn could accelerate when a child starts puberty.
So how exactly do parents thwart precocious puberty? Try to focus your child’s diet on whole plant foods, rather than just animal proteins. Also, cut down on dairy, and give them a variety of fruits and vegetables. When buying plastic, search for BPA-free alternatives to cut down on your child’s exposure to BPA, and avoid synthetic pesticides.
While it may sound difficult, many people have begun demanding less chemical exposure for their children, so it’s actually quite easy to decrease your child’s exposure to chemical toxins.