Excessive usage of screens, intake of high-calorie foods, and binge-eating, according to the study, are some of the reasons of early puberty. But some unexpected reasons for early puberty might be tied to sanitizer usage and Covid stress.
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A research conducted by experts from Pune’s Jehangir Hospital connected the Covid-19 lockdown, stress caused by the pandemic, and uncontrolled usage of sanitisers to an upsurge in cases of early puberty in kids, reports The Times Of India.
According to the researchers, hospital referrals for ‘precocious puberty’ (children physically becoming adults too early) increased 3.6 times during the pandemic, with children as young as 8-9 years old exhibiting symptoms of maturity far sooner than anticipated, including early menstruation.
The results, which were recently published in the Journal of Paediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, are consistent with trends seen in other nations. During the country’s Covid lockdown in 2020, for instance, one Italian study found a 108 percent increase in referrals for potential precocious puberty.
For the study, the Pune researchers utilized two groups: a pre-Covid lockdown group (Group 1) that lasted from September 1, 2018 to February 29, 2020, and a post-Covid lockdown group (Group 2) that lasted from March 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.
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“During the Covid lockdown period, out of 3,053 patients at our paediatric endocrinology centre, 155 patients (146 girls and nine boys) were referred for precocious puberty (5%), significantly higher than referrals during the pre-Covid period – just 59 patients (54 girls and five boys) out of 4,208 (just over 1%),” said Dr Vaman Khadilkar of Jehangir Hospital’s growth and paediatric endocrinology unit.
A substantial proportion of those showing early symptoms of adulthood were females. Excessive sanitizer usage, according to Dr Anuradha Khadilkar, deputy director and consultant pediatrician at Jehangir Hospital, is a possible cause.
“Triclosan, an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), is often found in various hand sanitizers and soaps. Data has demonstrated a link between Triclosan exposure and an earlier age of menstruation,” she said, adding that weight gain, because of being forced to stay at home for long periods, could be another potential reason.
Excessive usage of screens, intake of high-calorie foods, and binge-eating, according to the study, are other reasons of early puberty. “Stress, increased use of mobile phones and other devices, reduced sleep that leads to lower night-time melatonin levels can stimulate early onset of puberty,” said Dr. Vaman.
Children with a vitamin D shortage might also be more susceptible to developing early puberty, according to some research.