A new study shows that American girls are hitting puberty earlier than ever, with 15% of the 1,239 girls studied showing signs of breast development at age 7. Man, I didn’t get the bra talk from my mom until I was at least 10!

One in 10 white girls, twice as many as in a 1997 study, showed breast growth by that age, as did 23% of black girls and 15% of Hispanic girls. Though the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, doesn’t give a concrete reason why girls are developing earlier, Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where the study was conducted, said it did that find heavier girls with a higher BMI were more likely than others to begin puberty early. Reaching puberty earlier can mean higher risk of breast and endometrial cancer later in life, possibly due to increased exposure to estrogen. This is to say nothing of the increased risk of self-esteem issues, eating disorders, depression, and all the fun stuff that accompanies these conditions.

It appears that the rate has not changed as dramatically for black and hispanic girls as it has for white girls, so I’m especially curious to know what some of the potential reasons for that discrepancy could be, whether it’s related to genetics or something to do with environment, income, etc. In general, it’s also a bit unnerving to think of all the toxins present in our day-to-day environment that could be causing early development in children. I mean, at seven years old I still wanted to wear a cape to school and liked to pretend I was a cat—I can’t imagine today’s seven-year-old girl is any more capable of dealing with “becoming a woman.”

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