By Dr. Mercola

Recent research reveals American girls are hitting puberty earlier than ever before. The median age for breast development is now around 9, with rare cases of extreme precocious puberty occurring in girls as young as 4.

Precocious puberty is triggered by premature release of hormones, which results in sexual maturation, sometimes years before the natural norm. Research into the phenomenon reveals that environmental exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals plays a major if not decisive role.

Interestingly, recent research1 also claims that high sugar consumption—specifically soda—can affect young girls’ rate of maturation. According to associate professor Karin Michels, who studies links between environmental exposures, genetics and disease:

“Our study adds to increasing concern about the widespread consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks among children and adolescents.

The main concern is about childhood obesity, but our study suggests that age of first menstruation (menarche) occurred earlier, independently of body mass index, among girls with the highest consumption of drinks sweetened with added sugar.”

Early onset of puberty has ramifications that go far beyond mere physical changes. Emotions, behavior, mental and physical health can all be detrimentally affected.

While some parents are resorting to drug treatment to keep puberty at bay in their prematurely developing daughters, a more proactive approach would be to limit exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, starting as early before birth as possible, and to address your child’s diet—specifically restricting all forms of sugar as much as possible.

The Ramifications of Early Puberty

Hormones, emotions and behavior tend to go hand in hand, which can lead to distress both in the child and her parents when puberty comes years ahead of schedule. As noted in a recent Newsweek2 article:

“The mother of one 8-year-old wrote that her daughter ‘is a very sexual being. Although she does not by

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