Title: Study Finds Increase in Early Puberty Cases in Girls During Pandemic
Subtitle: Lockdown and Increased Screen Time Could Be Factors
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a study conducted in Italy has highlighted a concerning increase in the number of girls starting puberty early. The research, which explored early chest development in 133 girls referred to a specialist unit, revealed an alarming surge in cases during the pandemic.
Before the onset of the global crisis, less than two girls per month were diagnosed with rapidly progressive early puberty. However, during the pandemic, this number spiked to almost four girls per month. While the causes behind early puberty remain largely unknown, experts suggest that stress and reduced physical activity during the lockdown period could be contributing factors.
Among the girls under study, it was discovered that their average daily screen time reached two hours, primarily spent on electronic devices. Strikingly, as much as 88.5% of the girls reported a complete halt in physical activity during lockdown. Experts believe that prolonged exposure to blue light emitted by screens coupled with sedentary lifestyles may disrupt normal hormonal development.
In addition to Italy, the study revealed that countries such as India and Turkey experienced a similar surge in early puberty cases during the pandemic. Notably, the rate of early puberty increased by nearly 80% compared to the previous four years, indicating a significant impact of the crisis on girls’ development.
Alarmingly, the research also found a decrease in the age at which girls were diagnosed with early puberty during the pandemic. This trend raises concerns about the long-term physical and mental health consequences. Precocious puberty has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, while emotional problems like difficulty fitting in with peers are also common. Furthermore, early puberty has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
The study underscores the urgent need for further research to better understand the causes and long-term effects of early puberty in girls. By identifying the factors responsible for this concerning rise, healthcare professionals can develop targeted interventions to mitigate the potential health risks associated with accelerated puberty.
As the world grapples with the far-reaching consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to prioritize the physical and mental well-being of young girls, ensuring their development continues unhindered amidst these challenging times.
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