High BMI increases chance of early puberty in girls

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 26, 2007

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Females with a high body mass index at 3 years old and a significant increase in weight by 6 have a greater risk of developing prematurely, said a study in the March Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed data on 354 girls participating in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Those with a higher-than-average BMI at age 3 had a 50% greater chance of being at least at Tanner stage III by fifth grade than those who did not have excess weight. Those who had significant weight gain between age 3 and 6 had a 91% increased risk.

The authors say this study adds further weight to the argument that excess weight may cause early development rather than being a result of it.

"Our finding that increased body fatness is associated with the earlier onset of puberty provides additional evidence that growing rates of obesity among children in this country may be contributing to the trend of early maturation in girls," said Joyce Lee, MD, MPH, lead author and a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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