According to a report issued in the journal Pediatrics, about 15 percent of 1,239 girls studied showed the beginnings of breast development at age 7. One in 10 white girls showed breast growth by age 7 as did 23 percent of black girls and 15 percent of Hispanic girls. These percentages are twice the figures reported in 1997.
The long-term health risks associated with early development are increased risk for estrogen-dependent cancers like breast cancer and endometrial cancers. But the more immediate effects of premature puberty are the social, emotional and mental consequences of developing breasts early or getting a period before the third grade. Risk of confusion, depression, low self-esteem, body image challenges and eating disorders are all increased.
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