Washington: A new study has shown that obesity is the largest predictor of earlier onset of puberty in girls, which is affecting white girls much sooner than previously reported.
The multi-institutional study strengthens a growing body of research documenting the earlier onset of puberty in girls of all races.
"The impact of earlier maturation in girls has important clinical implications involving psychosocial and biologic outcomes," Frank Biro, MD, lead investigator and a physician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said.
"The current study suggests clinicians may need to redefine the ages for both early and late maturation in girls," he said.
Girls with earlier maturation are at risk for a multitude of challenges, including lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, norm-breaking behaviours and lower academic achievement.
Early maturation also results in greater risks of obesity, hypertension and several cancers - including breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer.
The research is published online in the journal Pediatrics.
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