more than doubled the cases of precocious puberty in lockdown-

I almost said early puberty or early registered at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome they more than doubled during the lockdown of 2020, compared to the same period of 2019. This is indicated by a study conducted by the specialists of the Endocrinology department, published in theItalian Journal of Pediatrics.

I study

The doctors of the hospital, coordinated by Marco Cappa, between March and September 2019, detected 93 cases of precocious puberty, of which 87 females and 6 males. In the same period of 2020 there were 224, of which 215 were females and 9 were males. It is about children under the age of 8. In 2019 the average age was 7.51 years for girls and 7.97 for boys, while in 2020 it was 7.33 years for girls and 8.14 for boys. The survey was also extended to 2017 and 2018, finding between 80 and 90 cases of early puberty. We speak of ‘precocious puberty’ when the signs of sexual development appear before the age of 8 in girls and before the age of 9 in boys. It’s a rare condition, with an incidence of 0.1-0.6% of the population (in Italy from 1 to 6 births per 1,000). If the diagnosis is made before the age of 8, it is possible to use drugs to slow down its manifestations.

Possible causes

Why exactly during the lockdown and what are the causes of this increased incidence of precocious puberty? It will be the subject of the second phase of the research, in which the Pediatric Endocrinology Centers of Genoa, Cagliari and Naples will also participate, but the scientists make some hypotheses: lifestyle changes (low physical activity), power supply and prolonged use of PCs and tablets. «During the lockdown – says Cappa – the children underwent changes that affected normal growth. It is a phenomenon whose impact has to be evaluated ».

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A phenomenon that has been studied for some years

In recent years there has been a general lowering of the pubertal age, today we are certainly noting an advance: the causes are numerous. Diet, richer in protein than a hundred years ago, may play a role. The proteins promote weight gain and the increase of body fat, a powerful stimulus for the onset of puberty. At least in the very young the correlation seems evident, because the excess fat favors the production of estrogen and therefore the development of the breast and the arrival of the menarche; a role in anticipation with respect to the past, then, seems very likely in theexposure to endocrine disruptors, substances similar to estrogen or other hormones that are now found everywhere, from the phytoestrogens of many plants, to the flame retardants used in computers and televisions, to substances present in water and food.

March 9, 2021 (change March 9, 2021 | 10:28)

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