U.S. Girls Keep Hitting Puberty Earlier - Cincinnati Children's Blog

U.S. Girls Keep Hitting Puberty Earlier

Childhood obesity appears to be playing a major role in the earlier onset of puberty in girls. And it’s a phenomenon that is affecting white girls much sooner than previously reported, according to new research.

A multi-institutional study found African American girls started getting breasts just before they turned nine, on average. Among white girls the average age was about nine and a half – a few months earlier than in the 1990s.

The long-term study followed more than 1,200 girls in and around San Francisco, Cincinnati and New York City. Girls were enrolled in the study between ages six and eight and followed with annual or semi-annual visits.

“The impact of earlier maturation in girls has important clinical implications involving psychosocial and biologic outcomes,” said Dr. Frank Biro, lead investigator and a physician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s. “The current study suggests clinicians may need to redefine the ages for both early and late maturation in girls.”

Girls with earlier maturation are at risk for a multitude of challenges, including lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, norm-breaking behaviors and lower academic achievement. Early maturation also results in greater risks of obesity, hypertension and several cancers – including breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer.

Read more from CBS News, NBC News, The Huffington Post and The Chicago Tribune.

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Cincinnati Children’s News Team

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