Early puberty to an extreme
Lindsey Morone, Melissa McCrady
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
Sitting on the couch with her new i-Pad, you'd think 6 year old Enhiyah Rolle was right on track with all the other kids her age, but mom, Nikki, says two years ago, that was put in question."
She was about four years old and I noticed that she looked like she was forming breasts,” Nikki says. A quick trip to the pediatrician provided what appeared to be an easy answer
“She told me it was because she gained weight,” says Nikki. But Nikki's "mom" instinct told her...it wasn't that simple
“I knew it because I have two other girls, and I’m a nice size woman myself, so I knew it was breasts,” Nikki says. That instinct led her to Dr. Cayce Jehaimi for a second opinion. They did a test on Eniyah, called a bone age, the results were staggering
“It said she was almost 7 or 8, when she was only,” says Nikki. Eniyah's body had developed to that of a child twice her age. But Nikki also learned, her daughter, isn't alone
“There’s no question that the referrals for these types of cases, girls who have early sexual development is on the rise,” says Dr. Jehaimi
Dr Jehaimi says, in the last ten years a significant number of girls as young as 4 or 5 are developing the outward signs of puberty
“Body odor, adult body hair growth in certain areas, and breast enlargement of course in girls,” says Dr. Jehaimi.
So why is this happening? First and foremost, our diets have changed with our fast paced lifestyle
“Parents don't have time to cook,” says Dr. Jehaimi, “so they rely on prepackaged foods that are microwavable in two or three minutes.”
It's a lifestyle Nikki admits, used to rule her family's nightly menu
“Steak and potatoes, macaroni and cheese, the normal American food,” Nikki says.
The problem is, the normal American food, namely the animals that produce our meat, are injected with hormones to make them grow bigger, faster, and guess where those hormone end up?
“But it’s not just in the foods that we eat,” says Four in Your Corners, Emily Dishnow. “Doctors say that the chemicals in plastic can have a serious negative effect on our kids hormones, and plastic, parents, is everywhere.”
From Tupperware, to plates...sippy cups, bottles and pacifiers, plastic is everywhere, and that's not necessarily a good thing
“Plastic has a great source of chemicals, says Dr. Jehaimi
Chemicals that we're injesting every day. And that's not all, childhood obesity can also play a role
“If a girl is overweight by even 10 or 15 pounds,” says Dr. Jehaimi, “there’s a 20 percent chance or more that she will develop early sexual development.”
As far as long term health problems, doctors say the research on early puberty is still too new to know. In the meantime, Eniyah is on medication that will stop her development until she's taken off of it. But Nikki has a warning for other parents
“If you go to your pediatrician and you feel like your kids have breasts and they're telling you something else, you need to go get a second opinion because something could really be wrong, and your child could be 9 years old with a period at school and you’re wondering why.”
So what can you do? Dr Jehaimi says that it helps to minimize fatty foods and the use of plastics, especially ones that are heated in the microwave...like baby bottles, or food in Tupperware containers. He says always buy “BPA-Free” baby bottles which have had dangerous plastic chemicals removed.
In addition to diet, obesity, and other environmental chemicals, Dr. Jehaimi says genetics and gender also play a role in early puberty in girls. He says right now, studies show, African American’s and Hispanics are at higher risk of beginning puberty at an earlier age.