It may seem that children are developing sooner than usual, and that is because they are. Children today are entering puberty earlier than ever. It is unclear why this is happening, although there are many hypotheses. One theory is that foods and other components, such as hormones, are causing precocious puberty. Another possible answer may be the dramatic increase in childhood obesity. The consumption of milk has traditionally been blamed for premature growth in adolescents. However there are no facts that directly link milk as the cause of precocious puberty. Previous studies lacked the consistency needed for accurate results. Newer studies are getting closer to answering this question but are variable dependent.
Puberty is defined as the beginning of sexual maturity. It is the period when a child changes physically, hormonally, sexually, and is able to reproduce. The normal age range for puberty in girls is between nine to sixteen years of age while in boys it is thirteen to fifteen. Precocious puberty means having development of breasts or testes, menstrual bleeding, pubic and underarm hair, body odor, and an increased growth rate earlier than normal. Precocious puberty is puberty that starts before age eight in a girl or nine in a boy. Adolescence is the period of transition between puberty and adulthood.
Most cases of precocious puberty have no known cause. Some possible underlying causes of precocious puberty are thought to be obesity, social factors, and environmental contamination. Research has shown that certain types of environmental contamination are affecting humans. Every day there is more information on chemicals in our environment. Chemicals are in personal care products, household products, cleaners, and foods and many disrupt the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a system of glands that produce endocrine secretions that help control bodily metabolic activity. Studies done with animals and humans show many of these endocrine disruptors play a role in changing the time of puberty. However more research is needed to better understand how these chemicals affect timing of puberty.
Children who consume more milk tend to have lower, rather than higher, body weights. If obesity is linked to early puberty, it is unlikely that milk plays a role. Milk has always contained natural bovine growth hormones (BST) in very small amounts. Some dairy producers administer the synthetic version of this hormone (rBST) to increase milk production in their cows. The FDA has concluded that milk produced by treated and untreated cows is exactly the same. Ninety percent of these hormones are destroyed during the pasteurization process. The remaining trace amounts are broken down into inactive fragments. Both BST and rBST are “cow specific”’ and have no effect on the human body. Thus, ‘hormones in mil’' is not a valid explanation for early puberty.
According to a new study from China, there was no known link between the amounts of cow's milk...