Unhealthy lifestyles in pandemic lockdowns is blamed for Girls started puberty EARLY


There is a significant lack of knowledge about the causes of precocious puberty in children, but some experts have suggested that the blue light from screens and a lack of exercise may interfere with girls' normal hormonal development.

A huge number of girls started puberty early during the pandemic, which could be due to stress or reduced physical activity.

In a study, 133 girls in Italy were referred to a specialized pediatric ward because their chests began to develop before the age of eight.

In the four years before the pandemic, from January 2016 to March 2020, 72 girls were diagnosed with ‘rapidly progressing’ early puberty – for example, where their height increased much too quickly or they had high hormone levels associated with adolescence.

That meant fewer than two girls per month were identified as going through puberty quickly.

But in the shorter period between March 2020 and June 2021, that had risen to almost four girls per month being diagnosed – 61 in all.

There is a significant lack of knowledge about the causes of precocious puberty in children, but some experts have suggested that the blue light from screens and a lack of exercise may interfere with girls’ normal hormonal development.

Researchers note that during this period, when Italy, like the UK, lived largely in lockdowns, the girls seen used electronic devices for an average of two hours a day and 88.5 percent stopped all physical activity.

There is a significant lack of knowledge about the causes of precocious puberty in children, but some experts have suggested that the blue light from screens and a lack of exercise may interfere with girls’ normal hormonal development.

Dr. Mohamad Maghnie, who led the study from the University of Genoa and the Giannina Gaslini Institute in Italy, said: ‘The role of stress, social isolation, increased parental conflict, economic status and the increased use of hand and surface disinfectants potentially represent other interesting hypotheses about why early puberty is increasing in youth.

“There’s an interesting evolutionary hypothesis that, when girls are very stressed, they menstruate early to reproduce and protect the future of the species.”

What is Precocious Puberty in Girls?

Early puberty, also known as precocious puberty, is when girls show signs of puberty before the age of eight.

They may develop some signs of puberty at a young age, but not others.

For example, their period may start, but they have no breast development.

Doctors usually don’t know what causes early puberty.

But it could be genetic or a problem with the brain, ovaries, or thyroid.

A GP may recommend seeing a specialist if they think the cause needs to be investigated.

In some cases, doctors prescribe drugs to lower hormone levels and interrupt sexual development for a few years.

Children generally enter puberty earlier than in the past because obesity rates are higher and carrying too much fat can disrupt the hormones that determine when a child becomes a teenager.

However, the study found no significant difference in the weight of girls who were found to go through early before the pandemic and through puberty.

There is also a chance that the parents of girls who spent more time at home with them during lockdown were more likely to notice early signs of puberty, so their daughters were diagnosed earlier.

However, a similar rise in the number of children going through puberty early during Covid has been seen in countries such as India and Turkey.

In all, researchers looked at 289 girls suspected of going through puberty because they developed “breast buds” — a very early sign of developing breasts — before the age of eight.

The number of these girls sent to a pediatric endocrine unit rose nearly 80 percent during the pandemic compared to the previous four years.

The number of those diagnosed with rapidly progressing early puberty was 30 percent higher, according to the study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

Before the pandemic, only 41 percent of girls referred to the clinic were found to have rapidly progressing early puberty, but that rose to 53.5 percent during Covid.

During the pandemic, girls were also found to be about four months younger, at an average age of seven years and eight months, rather than nearly eight years old.