Childhood Lost

Kids are rushed through childhood, especially when puberty hits too early. Surprisingly, doctors are baffled why girls are going through puberty earlier and earlier.

“Over the last 30 years, we’ve shortened the childhood of girls by about a year and a half,” says Sandra Steingraber, author of a 2007 report on early puberty for the Breast Cancer Fund, an advocacy group. “That’s not good.”

Of concern is about 15 percent of American girls now begin puberty by age seven! This is according to a study of 1,239 girls published last year in Pediatrics. One in 10 white girls begin developing breasts by that age — twice the rate seen in a 1997 study. Among black girls 23 percent hit puberty by age seven.

Obesity is a Factor
A major influence on the age of puberty tends to be obesity. In general, obese girls are much more likely to develop early than thin ones. And the number of heavy girls is growing, with 30 percent of children overweight or obese, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Kids grow up soooo fast.
Do everything you can to protect their childhood.

Obesity raises the levels of key hormones, such as insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar, and leptin, a hormone made in fat cells that helps regulate appetite, Steingraber says. While leptin may not trigger puberty by itself, research suggests that puberty can’t start without it.

Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins is most likely another key factor in today’s rise of early puberty in girls, according to a study published by the University of Ottawa. In the study, animals exposed to environmental estrogen reached puberty faster than animals not exposed.

The study also looked at phytoestrogens, such as those found in plants, and estrogen released into the environment through plastics and other products. They found children exposed to high levels of environmental estrogenic contaminants may experience early puberty.

Scientists are currently studying the link between hormones in meat and dairy and early rates of menarche in young girls, according to researchers at Oasis Advanced Wellness.

Protect Your Child’s Childhood
You can help your child stay a child longer by voiding environmental toxins. It makes sense to avoid meat and dairy, which comes from cows that have been given hormones. You can do that by purchasing organic meats and dairy.

Also, stay away from soy products. Yes, even soy infant formula. Soy contains isoflavones or phytoestrognes. Phytoestrongens are similar to the female hormone estrogen. Infants fed soy formula are exposed to six to 11 times higher doses than adults consuming soy foods.

Many of the synthetic chemicals used today are estrogen mimics. These are labeled environmental estrogens. You’ll want to avoid these as they are common sources for environmental estrogens: sunscreen lotions, plastic baby bottles, plastic water bottles, hair straighteners, nail polish, plastic wrap, shampoos containing placenta or estrogen, lotions, pesticides, herbicides, and drugs. Canned food as you can even get them from the lining of food cans.

Eat more vegetables and seeds: especially flax seed. Flax seed protects women from breast cancer and is rich in the omega-3 essential fatty acids. In addition, the lignans in flax seed regulate estrogen levels.

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