Dr Arikawe Adeolu, a medical practitioner with Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, says children who attain puberty earlier than the normal age are likely to develop breast cancer later in life.

Adeolu said in an interview said that the normal age of puberty was eight years for girls and nine years for boys.

The medical expert said that although research was still going on to confirm the view, findings had shown a link between early exposure to estrogen and breast cancer.

Adeolu said children who attained puberty early were exposed to estrogen early and the exposure lasted a long time which increased their risk, compared to those who attained puberty at normal age.

“Although this link has not been strongly established, what is being said is that there is a risk.

“Some studies have shown that children can enter puberty as early as the age of four or five and this is described as “precautious puberty’’.

“The normal time puberty is expected to occur should be above the age of eight for females and above the age of nine for male.

“Anything before that is considered early and that is what we call precautious puberty.”

Adeolu said that children who attained puberty early also could not grow as tall as their peers.

According to him, this happens because they experience a “growth sprout’’ which is rapid growth and this continues and stops abruptly, maybe around age 17 to 18.

“This is because the “Epiphyseal plate’’ responsible for growth seizes.

“The intricate connection between the brain and the sex organs of a child is what is responsible for the initiation of puberty.

“The signal that tells the body to begin the process of puberty actually comes from the brain; it is not something that an environmental factor can induce.

“What happens is that the hypothalamus initiates the signal and this signal which is a chemical called the “Gonadotropin releasing hormone’’ is sent to the pituitary gland.

“The moment this hormone is released from the hypothalamus it gets to the pituitary glands and starts producing the follicle stimulating hormone.

“This hormone acts on the sexual organs of the child be it the testis or the ovary.

“It starts producing estrogen in females and testosterone in male and that begins to initiate the process of puberty.”

He said that once puberty started, a girl child could get pregnant irrespective of the age

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