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Pollutants cited in early puberty among children

By Christine Cai (Shanghai Daily)

08:16, October 17, 2012

ABOUT 1 percent of local children are suffering early puberty due to a raft of reasons, including diseases, unhealthy food, obesity and exposure to environmental pollutants, like pesticides containing hormones and plastic materials, experts told a science forum yesterday.

Apart from personal reasons and lifestyle, exposure to chemicals in the environment plays an increasingly important role in children attaining early puberty, experts said.

A research conducted by doctors from the Children's Hospital of Fudan University studying the relationship between children's abnormal puberty and environment endocrine disrupters, or EEDs, like detergents and pesticides, found that both, children with early puberty and healthy children, had such chemicals in their blood. But the level in the 110 children with precocious puberty was much higher compared to the 100 healthy children which took part in the study.

Dr Cai Depei, leader of the study, said the research showed that EEDs widely exist in the environment and influence both healthy children and those with early puberty. However, the latter suffer a bigger impact.

Early puberty means girls experience sexual growth like breast development before the age of eight and boys see sexual changes like genital enlargement before the age of nine. There are usually more girl patients than boys.

"We are seeing more patients with early puberty," said Xia Lin, an official with the Shanghai Children's Medical Center. "In summer, a pediatric hospital can receive up to 100 such patients every day."

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