LONDON, June 13 (UPI) — In a worrying development, Danish scientists say, girls on average are reaching puberty before the age of 10 — almost a year earlier than 1991 figures showed.
A 2006 study highlighting the latest available data indicates the average age of breast development begins at nine years and 10 months, leading scientists to worry children are not ready to cope with sexual development while in primary school, The Sunday Telegraph in Britain reported.
The study, conducted in Denmark, does not indicate a definitive reason for the phenomenon but many scientists suspect a link to chemicals, including hormones in food, or obesity.
Exposure to hormones, scientists say, can possibly increase the risk of breast cancer.
“We were very surprised that there had been such a change in a period of just 15 years,” Anders Juul, head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction at the University hospital in Copenhagen, told The Sunday Times of London.
“It’s a clear sign that something is affecting our children, whether it’s junk food, environmental chemicals or lack of physical activity.”
There doesn’t appear to be a consensus among scientists about similar data in Britain, the Telegraph said.
“Although we don’t have clear data here, there is evidence the same thing [as in Denmark] is happening for reasons that we don’t understand,” said Richard Sharpe, head of the Medical Research Council’s human reproductive sciences unit in Edinburgh.
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