October 23, 2000
3:52 PM   Subscribe

More and more American girls are hitting puberty at 7 or 8 and nobody seems to know why. Some say pesticides are to blame; Dr. Drew points the finger at MTV.
posted by jjg (19 comments total)
This is purely anecdotal, but my best friend is Vietnamese and lived there until age 5. He always remarks that his cousins who were born and raised here in America are all taller and more muscular than the rest of his family. Boys and girls. He attributes it to the milk in their diet, regardless there has to be something in the diet to cause a change over one generation like that...
posted by owillis at 4:18 PM on October 23, 2000

Let's just hope those more muscular girls don't wanna become place kickers!
posted by gluechunk at 4:44 PM on October 23, 2000

if I have girls, I'm putting them into a tall tower with no door or steps, and the only way anyone will be able to get in will be to ask her to let down her hair.

and humane man-traps all around the periphery.

posted by rebeccablood at 4:51 PM on October 23, 2000

I've always thought it was growth hormones given to milking cows, which get transfered in trace amounts to milk.

Go soy!
(of course, I'm 6'3" tall and probably owe my size to all the milk I used to drink as a kid)
posted by mathowie at 5:05 PM on October 23, 2000

Growth hormones? In livestock and poultry? Inconceivable.
posted by dws at 5:08 PM on October 23, 2000

I agree with Dr. Drew that TV sped up puberty, but it wasn't MTV. It was Blossom
posted by schlomo at 5:30 PM on October 23, 2000

You mean that Video not only KILLED the Radio Star, but it gave his sister boobies?
posted by Optamystic at 7:07 PM on October 23, 2000

A humane man trap? I think I dated him.
posted by bradlands at 8:52 PM on October 23, 2000

if I have girls, I'm putting them into a tall tower with no door or steps...

Sounds like a good way to teach personal responsibility and instill a strong sense of self-direction, autonomy, and decision-making skills...
posted by rushmc at 9:07 PM on October 23, 2000

Great, now all these girls are going to have to outsource their childbearing, since they'll be past menopause by the time they want to settle down and have kids.

Maybe that cloning is good for something, after all.
posted by anildash at 9:09 PM on October 23, 2000

Go soy!

Genetically engineered to enhance the goodness!
posted by lagado at 9:26 PM on October 23, 2000

Yeah! Let's clone Blossom, Six, Joey... the whole gang. This, of course, brings up the ultimate question... do royalties have to be shared with Blossoms 2 and 3?
posted by gramcracker at 9:28 PM on October 23, 2000

This has happened in Britain, too: some studies have suggested it's related to the increased presence of oestrogen in the water supply. (It's already been blamed for sexual mutations in fish.)
posted by holgate at 9:37 PM on October 23, 2000

I thought early puberty was thought to be caused by the amazingly high amounts of saturated fats in the American diet thanks to fast food joints and quick-prepare foods. My wife hit puberty at 11 (I'm sure she'd love to know I'm telling you that), and based on the anthropology class I took in college, the average age of puberty in the US has steadily decreased since the 1950s. And the teen pregnancy rate has increased right along with that... Hmmm...
posted by daveadams at 9:51 PM on October 23, 2000

Actually, recently the teen pregnancy rate has been dropping.A beautiful theory slain by an ugly little fact...
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:14 PM on October 23, 2000

Here's another piece on the plummeting age of female puberty in Britain. And perhaps what's more disturbing than the biological facts is that pre-teens are undoubtedly encouraged by the media to "engage" with the issues of adolescence.

posted by holgate at 5:02 AM on October 24, 2000

Steven... all the numbers that I've heard about teen pregnancy don't seem to discount abortion. It appears that the numbers are for teens who come to full-term. Correct me (emperically), if I'm wrong.

On the early-spring issue, though, I'd be willing to bet that TV definitely has a role to play... in many species sexuality is not triggered by timing, but by availability. Hormones, after all, are the purview of the mind.

An incomplete analysis, but all that I have time for.

posted by silusGROK at 7:09 AM on October 24, 2000

What is most disturbing about this is how, yet again, young women are being taught to be ashamed of their bodies, sexuality and gender. Yes, 7 and 8 is very young indeed for puberty, but I am more troubled by the mother who said she doesn't allow her daughter to change in front of other children or attend sleepovers. Just because a young woman can be victimized or harrassed because she has breasts, doesn't mean that she has to be a victim. Why not take this opportunity to teach our daughters to value their bodies and treat themselves with the utmost respect?
posted by gsh at 12:09 PM on October 24, 2000

I think I can field that one, gsh: because she's different--especially in a way she can't control--she will be a pariah. Her mother believes that she is better off to excuse herself and be a small scale pariah than to encourage her into conflict. Which is worse? In an ideal world, kids would be taught not to be cruel and exclusionary, but it's not an ideal world. If she is excluded, she's likely at best to be teased mercilessly, and at worst to be beaten. An authority figure intervening will guarantee that her differences are in the spotlight. To a mature adult, this is not so much an issue. To a child, it is devastating. Her mother wishes to spare her this fate, but it carries its own consequences.

posted by plinth at 12:54 PM on October 24, 2000

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