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November 23, 2011

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10-fold rise of girls in premature puberty

THE percentage of girls in China entering premature puberty has jumped 10-fold from a decade ago due to increasing precocity-inducing additives in food, a survey by two local hospitals has concluded.

The sexual precocity rate among Chinese girls now stands at 5 percent, up from 0.5 percent 10 years ago, according to a joint investigation by the Shanghai Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Shanghai Children's Hospital affiliated to Jiao Tong University. An official with the TCM hospital said that participant doctors made the conclusion after studying patient cases and combing through similar medical surveys in recent years conducted by medical experts.

The survey is aimed to explore better therapies to treat the condition, which has been shown to hamper girls' normal physical growth. Half of the female patients with the condition will grow to no more than 150 centimeters tall, doctors said.

Studies show that sexual precocity unmatched with psychological development also causes girls to face various social problems, doctors said.

By the end of last year, the number of children - both boys and girls - with sexual precocity is believed to amount to at least 30,000 in Shanghai, which translates to about 1 in every 100 minors locally, according to a separate survey by local doctors. Food and medical experts said the growing rate of early-onset puberty is largely connected with the popularity of fast foods and the wide intake of hormone-contained additives from daily diets.

The doctors said levels of several hormones detected in sexually precocious girls is up to 11.5 times of those found in their healthy peers.


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