Effects on Puberty

Just recently, the cause of the early onset of puberty has been attributed, in part, to the exposure of the fetus and newborn child to environmental estrogens. The average age of puberty is typically 11-13 years. However, more and more females are reaching puberty at incredibly young ages. Males are also exhibiting issues during puberty that may be attributed to exposure to environmental estrogens.

In 1991, the median age of breast development in girls was 10.9 years. In 2006, this number dropped significantly to 9.9 years [10]. Some attribute this to higher obesity rates, however, many researchers are blaming chemicals such as pesticides, flame retardants, electronics, bisphenol A (you may recall comes from polycarbonate plastic bottles), linings of metal cans, and many more. The table below shows the increase in the number of 7-year-old girls between 1997 and 2010. These are the facts. It is now essential to figure out what to do about it.


Studies are also beginning to show that males are being affected by these chemicals as well. One specific study shows that baby boys exposed to phthalates early on in life are more likely to have issues such as smaller penis size and undescended testes. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can be found in vinyl and medical tubing, as well as other sources [10].

These issues, including reaching puberty at such a young age, can have devastating effects on girls and boys. Reaching sexual maturity as young as 7-years-old before the brain has even caught up to the reproductive system is just not an option that will bode well for our society.

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