Last Updated: February 21, 2023, 12:00 IST
Severe malnutrition or undernourishment can lead to delayed puberty, but in some cases, it can also trigger early puberty. (Image: Shutterstock)
In some cases, children begin to enter puberty at an earlier age than usual, which is known as early puberty or precocious puberty.
Puberty is a natural process that occurs in all children as they grow and develop into adults. The onset of puberty varies among individuals, it is generally considered early if it occurs before the age of eight in girls and before the age of nine in boys. There are several possible reasons why a child may experience early puberty, including genetic factors, environmental factors, medical conditions, and certain medications. Here are a few reasons that could lead to early puberty in kids:
Obesity: Childhood obesity has been linked to early puberty in both boys and girls. It is because fat cells produce estrogen, which can lead to the early development of secondary sexual characteristics such as breast development and the onset of menstruation in girls.
Increased junk food intake: Junk food is one of the main reasons for childhood obesity. Consumption of junk food affects nutritional improvement. It is because fat content, animal protein and trans-fat that is in junk food trigger the release of hormones that affect the occurrence of menarche (first menstrual cycle) in girls earlier than the normal age.
Chemicals: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), can affect the body’s natural hormonal balance, potentially leading to early puberty. These chemicals are commonly found in plastics, personal care products, and food packaging.
Malnutrition: Severe malnutrition or undernourishment can lead to delayed puberty, but in some cases, it can also trigger early puberty. It is because the body may produce higher levels of reproductive hormones in response to the stress of malnutrition.
Protein shakes: High protein intake can elevate insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels which could accelerate the onset of puberty. Protein shakes and other dietary supplements have synthetic probes that badly affect the hormones of children.
Stress: Chronic stress can lead to the early onset of puberty in girls. This is because stress can increase the production of cortisol, which can disrupt the normal hormonal balance and trigger the early release of reproductive hormones.
Exposure to the Internet or social media: Children these days spend too much time on various content available on the internet. Also, too much of exposure to adult content affects their brain, especially their pituitary gland. This gland secretes hormones when stimulated; it further stimulates the testicles or the ovaries to produce sex hormones, that is testosterone and estrogen. This could lead to early puberty among children.
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