Childhood gives way to adolescence more and more quickly

The headline from a recent article in the Nouvel Observateur read: « Where have the little girls gone? ». It seems that the transition to adolescence is occurring at a younger and younger age. It’s a trend that worries child psychiatrists who are convinced of the importance of the Freudian « latency stage », the protected haven that constitutes childhood.

 

Biologically, young girls are becoming women quicker than in the past: although the age of getting their first period hasn’t changed much for half a century (12.5 years on average), mammary glands are appearing earlier. Between 10% and 25% of young girls show signs of puberty from the age of 7 onwards, which was extremely rare a few decades ago.

The cause? A diet that’s more varied and richer than a century ago: little girls have all the nutrients necessary to grow up fast and excess weight which is more and more common) favours a high level of oestrogen, the hormone responsible for puberty. Pesticides and other chemical elements are also accused of accelerating the puberty process.

Marine Baudin-Sarlet

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