Endocrine Disruptors Can Also Pose a Risk for Early Puberty!
As indicated by recent studies, Child Health and Diseases Pediatric Endocrinology Specialist Assoc. Dr. Elif Sağsak, who stated that early puberty is more common among girls in recent years, pointed out that the increasing exposure to endocrine disruptors is one of the reasons for this. Our specialist provided important warnings about where endocrine disruptors are found and what should be done to increase awareness..
Substances that disrupt the function of the endocrine system, negatively affecting our health, are defined as endocrine disruptors. Child Health and Diseases Pediatric Endocrinology Specialist at Yeditepe University Hospitals emphasized that endocrine disruptors, which mimic hormones or interfere with the functioning of hormones, can also be stored in the body's fat tissue for extended periods. She mentioned that these substances can be transmitted from the mother to the baby during pregnancy, affecting the baby negatively.
Emphasizing the significance of these substances for our children's health, the Pediatric Endocrinology Specialist stated that the increasing exposure to endocrine disruptors in recent years is considered one of the causes of early puberty in children.
How Do Endocrine Disruptors Affect the Puberty Process?
According to our Child Endocrinology Specialist, endocrine disruptors are categorized into two groups: natural and synthetic. Natural endocrine disruptors primarily include phytoestrogens, which are found in nature and resemble the natural hormonal structure of foods. The synthetic group includes industrial cleaning products, phthalates, and agricultural pesticides. Our expert provided the following information on how endocrine disruptors affect the puberty process: "Endocrine disruptors can influence the hormone receptors in our bodies, particularly in the brain or reproductive organs, leading to an earlier onset of puberty or causing isolated breast growth mimicking puberty in girls. In rarer cases, they can also delay the onset of puberty. Studies have shown that girls exposed to factors such as consuming red meat twice a day, living near heavy traffic on main roads, and being exposed to tobacco smoke tend to experience puberty at a younger age. In another study, it was found that girls who started menstruating earlier had higher levels of endocrine disruptors in their urine compared to girls who menstruated later. Additionally, endocrine disruptors with estrogenic effects can also lead to gynecomastia, or breast enlargement, in boys."
The excessive use of these products increases exposure
Our specialist mentioned that the consumption of products containing phytoestrogens for a prolonged period leads to an estrogen-like effect in the body. She continued by saying, "Phytoestrogens are found in some natural foods in nature. These include soy products, flaxseed, sage, licorice root, and stinging nettle. Phytoestrogens are also found in fruits like strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries. If these fruits are consumed more than one portion per day throughout the year, even outside their seasons, an estrogen-like effect can be observed in the body. Additionally, many herbal teas and dietary supplements contain these substances. It's essential to remember that herbal teas have no place in children's diets, especially those consumed regularly for months, such as herbal teas containing sage or stinging nettle, can also exhibit estrogenic effects, leading to early puberty in our children."
Furthermore, our specialist pointed out that we are exposed to endocrine disruptors in the synthetic group. She provided the following information on how we encounter these substances: "Among these substances, phthalates, bisphenol (BPA), and pesticides are the most common. Phthalates are used to make plastic materials softer, more elastic, lightweight, and durable. They can be found in cosmetic products and in the manufacturing of baby bottle nipples. Bisphenol A (BPA) is also used as a plastic coating material and can be found in baby formula and beverage bottles as well as food packaging. Pesticides can be present in agricultural pesticides, and they can contaminate fruits, vegetables, meats, milk, and eggs."
"It's Possible to Reduce Our Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors!
"Our expert mentioned that, under today's conditions, exposure to endocrine disruptors cannot be reduced to zero, but it is possible to decrease exposure. Here are some of the things that can be done in this regard:"
Making Label Reading a Habit: When buying a product, we should pay attention to whether it does not contain BPA. Therefore, we need to make a habit of reading labels. Children's exposure to plastic products and toys should be restricted as much as possible. Care should also be taken to ensure that baby pacifiers and bottles do not contain BPA.
Food Should Not Be Stored in Plastic Containers: Breast milk and the foods we serve to children should not be stored in plastic containers, and food stored in plastic containers, especially, should not be heated in the microwave. Instead, ceramic containers should be used. If plastic containers are used, they should not come into contact with hot food and should not be washed in the dishwasher.
Steel Water Bottles Should Be Preferred for Children: We should avoid using plastic products, especially for school lunch boxes. Whenever possible, steel water bottles should be preferred. The PET bottles we use release chemicals in very cold and hot environments, so they should not be left in direct sunlight or placed in the freezer.
If we are buying products with plastic packaging, we should pay attention to the symbols written on the bottom of these products. If they have the numbers 1, 2, 4, or 5, it means they do not pose health risks. However, it should be remembered that having numbers 3, 6, and 7 indicates potential health risks.
Choose Organic Products: It's important to pay attention to whether chicken and eggs are organic. The barcode number on eggs indicates whether they are '0 organic eggs' or '1 free-range eggs.' Therefore, make sure to check for these numbers on the products you purchase.
Consume Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables: Paying attention to this is not only important for healthy eating but also for protection from endocrine disruptors. Seasonal fruits and vegetables should be soaked in a baking soda solution and then washed under running water. Peelable fruits and vegetables should be peeled before consumption.
Supplements for Children Should Not Be Used Without Doctor's Recommendation!
Yeditepe University Hospitals' Pediatric Endocrinology Specialist, who also provided some suggestions on how to avoid phytoestrogens found in natural foods, emphasized, 'First and foremost, we should not use food supplements without a doctor's recommendation. Because these supplements may contain plants with estrogenic effects, which could lead to the appearance of early puberty signs in our children. It's also important to stay away from various herbal mixtures that are recommended with promises of height growth and weight gain.'"
- Factors Affecting Growth in Children
- Thyroid Gland Diseases in Children
- Diabetes in Children
- One-third of Obesity In Adults Begins in Childhood
- Caffeine Consumption in Children
- Diabetes Mellitus and its Treatment
- Childhood Obesity and Nutritional Recommendations
- Causes and Treatment of Obesity in Children
- Obesity Increases Early Puberty
- Thyroid Hormone Deficiency May Cause Short Stature