According to recent data, incidence of early puberty has surged since the start of the COVID pandemic.1 It’s also affecting children at ages that are historically unprecedented. What could possibly account for this phenomenon?
Rare Condition Has Suddenly Become More Prevalent
Early puberty, also known as precocious puberty, has historically been rare, affecting approximately 1 in 5,000 to 10,000 children. The female-to-male ratio of incidence is about 10-to-1 in favor of girls.
But for some as-yet unknown reason, since early 2020, doctors around the world have seen a surprising increase in cases, predominantly if not exclusively among girls, with girls as young as 5 sprouting breasts and menstruation starting in girls younger than 8. Typically, breast development begins around age 10 to 11, with menstruation starting two years later.
Dr. Vaishakhi Rustagi, a pediatric endocrinologist in Delhi, India, told The Fuller Project2 that he normally sees about 20 cases of early puberty each year, but since June 2020, he’s seen more than 300 such patients.
In Italy, a survey3 of five pediatric endocrinology sites found 328 girls had been referred for suspected early puberty between March and September 2020, up from 140 during the same seven-month period in 2019. Another Italian study4 found patients previously diagnosed with slow-progressing early puberty experienced an acceleration of pubertal progressing during and/or after lockdown.
Similar findings have emerged from Turkey, where early puberty cases reported between April 2020 and March 2021 were more than double that of any of the preceding three years5 (58 cases during the pandemic year compared to a total 66 cases for the previous three years combined)….