Times Online June 13 2010
Growing numbers of girls are reaching puberty before the age of 10, raising fears of increased sexual activity among a new generation of children. Scientists believe the phenomenon could be linked to obesity or exposure to chemicals in the food chain, and is putting girls at greater long-term risk of breast cancer. A study has revealed that breast development in a sample of 1,000 girls started at an average age of 9 years and 10 months — an entire year earlier than when a similar cohort was examined in 1991. The research was carried out in Denmark in 2006, the latest year for which figures were available, but experts believe the trend applies to Britain and other parts of Europe. Data from America also point to the earlier onset of puberty.
Scientists warn that such young girls are ill-equipped to cope with sexual development when they are still at primary school. “If girls mature early, they run into teenage problems at an early age and they’re more prone to diseases later on. We should be worried about this regardless of what we think the underlying reasons might be. It’s a clear sign that something is affecting our children, whether it’s junk food, environmental chemicals or lack of physical activity.”