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August 11, 2009

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Early puberty, breasts at 4 easily explained

CITY hospitals are receiving more children with early puberty due to eating high-hormone food or tonics, an improper lifestyle, the effects of environmental pollution or diseases.

No. 411 Hospital of People's Liberation Army received three girls with early puberty last week. One was suffering from a glandular disorder and another had been taking hormone tonics but the third was aged only four and had developed breasts.

Doctors found that the four-year-old had been eating her mother's birth-control pills.

"Their situations were not very serious and can be remedied through medication and a lifestyle change," said Zhu Weijie, a hospital official.

"As an adult hospital we seldom received such patients in previous years but now we are having, on average, three to four cases a month."

Shanghai Children's Medical Center said it received about 500 patients with early puberty problems last month, 25 percent higher than for the same month last year.

"Environmental pollution, hormone-containing tonics and food and parents' higher awareness have resulted in the increase of patients," said Dr Huang Xiaodong, of the center's glandular department.

"Some children can suffer symptoms due to tumors."

Puberty normally starts between the ages of 12 and 13.

If a girl begins menstruating before 10 or her breasts develop before eight, a checkup is advised. The same applies to a boy having sexual development before aged nine.

Early puberty can influence a person's height and cause psychological problems including low self-esteem, according to doctors.


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