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Insufficient vitamin D supply may cause early puberty in girls

July 17, 2013

Increasing the vitamin D status of girls with low vitamin levels may help to prevent an early onset of puberty, according to new research from South Korea.

In the observational study, blood vitamin D concentrations of 110 girls between the ages of 7 to 10 years with precocious and normal puberty development were measured (1). The study results showed that girls with precocious puberty were significantly more likely to have a low vitamin D status when compared to those with average age development: 44% of girls in the early puberty group were severely vitamin D deficient, while 21% with average age puberty were severely deficient. In addition, vitamin D was shown
to be linked to a suppression of the activity of neurons involved in releasing a hormone that triggers the ovulation process (menstruation).


The researchers concluded that these results suggest that vitamin D may inhibit early pubertal onset and/or the rapid progression of puberty. However, they added that further clinical trials are needed before recom-mendations can be established. Previous research has already found low vitamin D levels in girls with precocious puberty, although the exact relationship between vitamin D deficiency and early development remains unclear.

For young girls, puberty usually begins between the ages of 10 and 14 years, while young boys start a bit later between 12 and 16 years. Precocious puberty is diagnosed when girls start developing before the age of 8. In boys, early puberty is diagnosed when sexual development starts before age 9. Early puberty is much more common in girls than it is in boys. Children who experience precocious puberty often stop growing earlier than usual, causing them to be shorter than the average adult. Children who experience puberty before their peers may also be extremely self-conscious; potentially causing social and emotional problems later in life.

References

  1. Kim M. S. et al. The effects of vitamin D on the early pubertal onset and the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neuronal activities. Data presented at the Endocrine Society's Annual Meeting in San Francisco, USA; June 2013.