Why has early puberty spiked during the Pandemic?

According to recent data, rates of precocious puberty have increased since the start of the COVID pandemic.first It also affects children at an unprecedented age in history. What could explain this phenomenon?

Rare condition suddenly becoming more common

Precocious puberty, also known as precocious puberty, has historically been rare, affecting about 1 in 5,000 to 10,000 children. The female-to-male incidence is about 10 to 1 in favor of girls.

But for some reasons still unknown, since the beginning of 2020, doctors around the world have seen a surprising increase in the number of cases, mainly in girls, with babies. 5-year-old girls breasts are papling and menstruation begins in girls under 8 years of age. , 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 typically sees about 20 cases of precocious puberty each year, but as of June 2020 he has seen more than 300 such patients.

In Italy, a survey3 of five pediatric endocrinology sites found that 328 girls were referred for suspected precocious puberty between March and September 2020, up from 140 during the same 7-month period in 2019. Another Italian study4 showed that patients previously diagnosed with delayed-progressive precocious puberty experienced more rapid puberty during and/or after inactivity.

Similar findings emerged from Turkey, where cases of precocious puberty were reported between April 2020 and March 2021 more than twice as high as in any of the previous three years.5 (58 cases in the pandemic year compared to a total of 66 cases in the previous three years combined).

Early puberty can have serious consequences

While this may not appear to be a disaster on the surface, in reality it can have dire consequences for those affected. For example, early puberty is associated with a higher risk of depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and antisocial behavior.

Precocious puberty can also be caused by a more serious condition, such as a CNS, ovarian, adrenal, pituitary or brain tumor, so these conditions need to be ruled out. except as a causative factor before considering hormone therapy.

Precocious puberty (as long as it’s not due to some underlying condition that needs to be addressed) is usually treated with monthly injections of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH analog therapy).6), which delays further development. When a child reaches the right age for puberty, hormone treatment stops, and puberty begins again.

Do Lockdowns Trigger Precocious Puberty?

The authors of the Italian study7 hypothesized that there might be an association between precocious puberty in girls and “complex lifestyle changes associated with lip lock”. But how?

One possibility is stress. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital, told The Fuller Project,8 “From 9 to 15 years old, you are going through this process, but the stress of the pandemic has accelerated that physiological process. Meanwhile, socially and emotionally, they’re still kids.” Rustagi agrees, saying, “I think it’s directly related to the amount of stress the kids have to go through.”9

Other suspicions include high electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, increased obesity, high exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the home, and sleep. least.ten,11 – all of which is exacerbated by being locked out when children are locked indoors and having to learn remotely.

Additionally, heavy exposure to plastics and microplastics containing phthalates and BPA, endocrine disruptors, certainly doesn’t help the situation.

None of these alone are sufficient to explain the sudden onset of precocious puberty, but taken together, they can trigger changes in CNS mediators and an increase in increase catecholamines to kick-start puberty.

A curious connection

Curiously, at the same time as precocious puberty skyrocketed, researchers at Penn Medicine published the results of a preclinical trial.twelfth,13 showed that antiandrogen drugs can disrupt the ACE2 and TMPRSS2 receptors that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter cells.

Research,14 sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and awarded by the US Department of Defense, published March 19, 2021.

In it, the authors note that the two receptors are regulated by androgens — the same hormone that causes early prostatitis.15 (sexual maturation and libido) – and by blocking the receptors with Camostat and other androgen-blocking drugs, entry and replication of the virus was prevented. According to a Penn Medicine press release:16

“The findings provide further insight into the molecular mechanism of the virus but also support the use of antiandrogen therapies to treat COVID-19 infection, which is currently being studied in clinical trials. ready and has produced promising results. They also support data showing increased mortality and disease severity in men compared with women, who have much lower androgen levels.

‘We provide the first evidence that not only TMPRSS2, which is known to be regulated by androgens, but that ACE2 may also be directly regulated by this hormone,’ said senior author Irfan A. Asangani, PhD. , said an assistant professor of Cancer Biology. Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

‘We also show that the spike of SARS-CoV-2 relies on these two receptors to enter and enter cells, and that they can be blocked with existing drugs. That’s important because if you stop the virus from entering, you reduce the viral load and the progression of the disease. ‘”

Other research17 discovered that ACE2 receptors are present on nearly all testicular cells. This raises the question of whether male fertility and/or gonadal function might be adversely affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection. It has also been shown that estrogen regulates the expression of ACE2 in lung epithelial cells.18 So sex hormones appear to play a role in SARS-CoV-2 infection in more ways than one.

Puberty vs. Adrenarche

To be clear, although precocious puberty and precocious puberty are similar, they are not the same. Adrenarche refers to the activation of the adrenal gland, which leads to the production of sex hormones such as androgens, which are responsible for peacock feathers, oily skin and hair, body odor, acne, libido and increase sex drive.

On the other hand, puberty is the maturation process of sexual reproduction. Brain signals are sent to the testes and ovaries, triggering the development of sperm and eggs, respectively, as well as secondary characteristics such as a deeper voice in boys and breasts in girls.

Is this why children are not susceptible to COVID?

While we haven’t heard much about it in the news, several COVID-19 clinical trials over the past year or so involved antiandrogen drugs, with many positive in stopping the progression of the infection. coincide. Some have also suggested that the effect of androgens on SARS-CoV-2 infection may be the reason why young children have such low rates of COVID-19, as they have low androgen levels.

As explained in the article, “The Resilient Child: Sex Steroid Hormones and the Incidence of COVID-19 in Pediatric Patients”:19

“Androgen regulates the protease TMPRSS2, which facilitates efficient host-virus fusion with the lung epithelium, thereby increasing susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and the development of COVID-19 serious. Because of the low steroid hormone content, prepubertal children may have low TMPRSS2 expression, thereby limiting viral entry into host cells.”

That said, there’s something quite curious about the timing of this information, because suddenly, the health care system has become very focused on normalizing transgenderism. Could it be that they are thinking of giving their children sex hormones as a treatment for COVID and need a cover story? As noted in the Penn Medicine study:20

“Together, our data provide a strong rationale for clinical evaluations of TMPRSS2 inhibitors, androgen ablation therapy/androgen receptor antagonists alone or in combination with antiretroviral agents. virus as soon as clinically possible to prevent progression of COVID-19.”

Can treating children with antiandrogens cause changes in the way they feel about their sexuality? And if so, is it possible that the healthcare industry wants to stay on top of trends and quell questions by convincing people that transgender and gender confusion are completely normal? That’s pure speculation, of course, but it’s probably something to keep in mind later on.

Activating early puberty

Although there is no direct evidence that exposure to EMF in childhood can trigger precocious puberty, one animal study21 found that Wi-Fi and cell phone radiation during pregnancy increased the risk of precocious puberty in children.

Thus, it is possible that these on-going generation effects and/or susceptibility are made worse by other environmental factors such as diet, inactivity, obesity, stress and exposure. with endocrine disrupting chemicals and estrogen-rich foods.

If there is no obvious cause, it is difficult to prescribe a remedy. But I believe it’s safe to say that parents would be wise to keep an eye on what their kids are doing and coming into contact with – pandemic or not. Eg:

Feed your child a healthy diet of unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Avoid soft drinks and sugary drinks and encourage them to drink water instead.

Implement a time-restricted eating schedule in which you limit meals and snacks to six to eight hours each day.

Limit their EMF exposure by setting time limits on computers, tablets, and mobile phones, and turning off Wi-Fi in your home when not in use, especially at night.

Optimize their sleep by having them go to bed and wake up at certain times.

Encourage daily physical activity. If they’re not allowed outside due to COVID restrictions, look for some form of exercise they can do indoors, such as bodyweight exercises. For ideas, check out “12 bodyweight exercises your kids can do at home” by Sports Mom’s Survival Guide.22

Investigate potential sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals around your home and remove or replace them as needed.

General source23 includes bromine flame retardants found in clothing, furniture and mattresses; phthalates are found in plastic containers, plastic water bottles, older sippy cups, nonstick food wrappers, epoxy resins in canned foods and scented personal care products; lead is found in old paint and many public water supplies; pesticides and herbicides used around yards and found on inorganic produce; PFAS is found in cookware, carpets, and non-stick textiles.

Teach (and ideally model) stress-reduction techniques to your child and talk to them about how they’re feeling.

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