A new study shows young girls with higher body mass index, above the 85th percentile, tend to be starting puberty earlier. But, what does this mean for the health of your child?
If your child is overweight could it be pushing her into early puberty and development. A new study involving more than 1200 girls for seven years finds there is a link. And, doctors in our community say this may lead to major health implications that can affect her down the road.
Sarasota physician, Dr. Robert Ford has practiced medicine for more than twenty-five years, he says if a young girl hadn't had a period by age sixteen, that would be a cause for concern. "I've seen them as young as seven, having periods as young as nine." This may be the new normal he explained. "I've had to change my dynamic now to going into thirteen, cause that's very unusual now, young girls start so much earlier now."
"When they reach a hundred and fifteen pounds, they often start their menses, and now I'm seeing fourth graders reaching a hundred and fifteen pounds. I never saw that in the past." Said Licensed Nutrition Councilor, Eve Plews of Full Spectrum Health
Now a large, long term study involving more than 1200 girls finds a link between obesity and girls entering puberty at an alarmingly young age,
"We have 17 percent of our children are obese, that's 12 and a half million children, it's a serious problem." Said Carola Fleener, M.D. of Sarasota Children's Clinic.
The way hormones interact with our bodies composition may trigger early puberty explained Dr. Fleener. "Estrogen kind of deposits in the fat cells, so obesity is contributing to the earlier breast development in these prepubescent girls."
Early development may pose serious health risks said Dr. Ford. "We know that women who have earlier puberty have higher risk of breast cancer."
Obesity and early puberty are also linked to reproductive cancers added Plews. "The more time you surge the tissue with estrogen, the more possibilities you have of creating a cancer." Risk factors go up the longer estrogen is is in your body she explained. "The earlier that a girl starts and the later she menstruates to her menopause, the wider that window is, the higher the risk."
Both Ford and Plews said the added hormones in some of our meat and dairy supply may contribute to the obesity/hormone problem. But, because we know now that estrogen deposits in the fat cells there are things that you can do for your child to help them achieve and stay a healthy weight, including staying active, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
A sign of the times may be the amount of companies marketing feminine hygiene products designed to attract little girls, some as young as 8.