Have You Noticed Young Girls Hitting Early Puberty Since COVID-19 Started?

Precocious puberty means a youngster enters puberty early. Girls begin puberty earlier than males. Thus, breast development is an early symptom. Genetics, body fat, and chemicals are probable reasons for early puberty. When females enter puberty too early, it’s stressful for them and their parents. If your daughter starts puberty before she’s 8, see her doctor.

How Uncommon Is Early Puberty?

Only approximately 1% of U.S. teens reach puberty too early. Hispanic and Black females may enter puberty sooner, increasing their rates.

Early puberty has two forms:

Central precocious puberty (CPP). This is most common, as early pituitary hormone release causes it. Hormones instruct the ovaries to create estrogen, starting puberty.

Peripheral precocious puberty (PPP). The pituitary gland has nothing to do with this form of early sex hormone production. It might be the ovaries, adrenals, or thyroid.

What Does This Mean For Little Girls?

Girls’ breasts develop as they age. Growth spurts are common. Your youngster will undergo several changes over two to five years as puberty progresses.

Puberty changes:

Development of breasts. When females obtain breast buds, they realize they’re becoming older. One breast may develop first and hurt to touch.

Growth spurt. A female can gain up to 25 pounds and 10 inches throughout puberty. First, her hands and feet will grow, then her hips and waist. Her trunk will grow, and her lower jaw bones will enlarge, changing her facial form.

Growth of pubic hair. It may start nice and light but become tough, curly, and black. Some girls grow pubic hair before breast buds. At the end of puberty: leg and underarm hair.

Menstruation. After getting their first breast bud, most females have their first period 2 to 3 years later. A girl may experience vaginal discharge 6 to 12 months before her first menstruation. Girls have their first period at 12 in the U.S.

Increased body fat. Fat accumulates in the hips and breasts.

Acne. Hormonal changes may make sweat glands work harder, causing acne, underarm perspiration, and body odor.

Mood changes. Your youngster may get irritated and alter throughout puberty.

How Is COVID-19 Making This Happening?

Many physicians assumed it was due to the stress of the pandemic lockdown, which placed kids under a lot of strain. Stress may affect a child’s body.

Weight, prenatal nutrition, dietary habits as a child, physical activity, and psychological variables all influence early puberty.

Increased exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals at home and less physical exercise during lockdowns might have led more females to start puberty early. “Persistent lifestyle changes” started before the lockdown.

Pediatricians in the U.S. report early sexual maturity. Girls as young as five are growing breasts and starting periods. Pediatrician Adiaha I.A. Spinks-Franklin noted that many of her young female patients had their menstruation following a lockdown.

“Breast buds appear at 10 or 11, and your menstruation two years later,”  Spinks-Franklin says that’s typical. “You go throughthis process from 9 to 15, but the epidemic accelerated it. They’re still adolescents socially and emotionally.”

Pandemic stress has put children through a lot. So many changes have been experienced in their lives, including adjusting to a new way of life and mourning over pandemic victims.

Can This Be An Indicator To Other Health Issues?

Researchers have studied early puberty causes. Puberty usually has no evident medical explanation, although occasionally a tumor or illness is to blame (such as hypothyroidism or a genetic disorder). Cancer radiation treatment may cause early puberty too. Examples:

Genealogy. Early puberty may be caused by genetic changes, although it can also occur spontaneously.

Obesity. Body fat impacts hormone usage. Obese females enter puberty sooner than normal-weight girls, but according to research, their periods didn’t start early.

Chemicals. Exposure to sex hormone-containing lotions or ointments may cause early puberty. Some studies demonstrate that hormone-disrupting substances like phthalates affect puberty.

Adoption. Experts say they didn’t receive adequate nourishment as children and acquired weight fast after being adopted.

There’s typically nothing wrong when a female starts puberty before eight years old. They’re just slightly early average. Puberty shouldn’t be rushed. It’s not like a baby walking or talking early.

Early puberty considerations:

Stature. Early puberty may make children shorter than typical as adults. A kid stops growing after puberty. Your child may be taller than their friends, but they may stop developing early and be shorter as adults.

Mental health. Your child may feel uncomfortable socially or with their physique due to early puberty. They may feel guilty and be teased by friends. They may also have mood issues. According to research, early puberty females are more likely to suffer mental health issues like depression as adults.

Risk of cancer. Early periods may expose females to more sex hormones, increasing their risk of breast and endometrial cancer.

Regular checks may help you determine whether your kid needs medical attention. The doctor monitors your child’s growth at each appointment and may inform you about any differences.

Is There A Way To Avoid Or Prevent It?

The diagnosis determines therapy. An endocrinologist may advise parents depending on their child’s age, the pace of maturation, height and predicted future height, test findings, and the presence or absence of underlying problems.

You may be instructed to watch your youngster for a few months. The doctor will address puberty-causing conditions if found. Precocious puberty should end if a tumor that causes early puberty is removed.

If it doesn’t work, your kid may be given a GnRH analog to halt sex hormone production. Puberty is then delayed. The endocrinologist provides the injection monthly or quarterly (depending on the medication).

Your child takes the drug till puberty begins. Under-arm implants are another option. A yearlong implant gently delivers medication and no more injections after the simple surgery to put it in (to be repeated in a year).

GnRH-treated children may have mood swings, acne, or a period during the first six weeks of medication, but these will subside. After stopping the medicine, puberty starts again in 12 to 18 months. Between visits, growth and hormone levels should be monitored.

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