Why is precocious puberty harmful? Keys to understand and act in the face of this growing phenomenon


Cases of precocious puberty have increased dramatically over the past decades, although no statistics which reflect how accurate. However, pediatricians confirm that it is a reality in their daily clinical practice.

A study from Granada has just found an association between the pesticides and this phenomenon which affects one in 5,000 or 10,000 girls or boys (with particular prevalence among them). But there are other causes, such as being overweight or microplastic and the chemical products, which can alter hormonal processes. These are some keys 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, when puberty begins growth plates close and girls and boys end up with very low waists,” he explains. But, in addition, the other reason is “psychological”. “Have a mature woman’s body and a child’s mind It’s not good psychologically.” He says.

“Furthermore, we know that in the patients with breast cancer, one of the antecedents is having had a first period very early. This does not mean that girls with very early periods will get breast cancer. But the opposite is true: that patients with breast cancer had their first period very early,” he points out for his part. Nicholas 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 its effects on the growth and development of the child.

What signs should you 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) Heavy Ibanez. “That in itself should be reason for medical consultation, before menstruation, which appears later,” he explains. Precocious puberty usually occurs girls in around eight years, and in children (as genital growth or pubic or armpit hair), around 9 a.m.

What can you do there?

According to Riaño, if the cause of precocious puberty is endocrine disruptors (chemical substances, such as parabens, which some gels and cosmetics contain), must be “removed” and “avoid exposure to such substances.”

“I have seen in my practice patients with signs of precocious puberty who were using such substances. If they had been using them for a short time, when removing these signs they disappeared. If it lasts for a long time, it can lead to the onset of precocious puberty, and this is no longer reversible”, points.

But if there is specific treatments for some cases. “They are puberty plugs which are administered by a injection. This does not happen in all cases, but only applies in very young children with progressive puberty”, explains, for his part, doctor Ibáñez.

What do pediatricians see?

The perception is that menstruation comes earlier. “As a doctor, I have the Perception more and more periods are coming between 10 and 11 years old, and before he did it at 12 and 13 years old”, says the endocrinologist Carmen Valls Llobet, who studied the relationship between precocious puberty and microplastics.

Why are cases of precocious puberty increasing?

According to Dr. Ibáñez, in addition to pesticides or microplastics, being overweight, more widespread than before, is also a key factor. “Birth weights are A little lower and then there is a greater tendency to be overweight. This change can trigger puberty a little before, between 8 and 9 years old”, says this doctor from Sant Joan de Déu.

early puberty It’s not a “pathological” thing. but that’s not “completely normal” either. “There are environmental pollutants, situations of stress in many children… We should probably look after them more.” In times of covid, he says, there were studies in Italy that argued that cases of precocious puberty have doubled during or following the pandemic.

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