A study reveals that exposure to blue light during infancy can increase a child's risk of going through precocious puberty and also cause them long-term fertility problems.  Early puberty is linked to an increased risk of mental health problems and even certain cancers later in life (file photo)

Blue light exposure may increase risk of precocious puberty and even impair fertility

Exposure to blue light from phones and tablets during childhood may increase production of reproductive hormones and increase risk of precocious puberty and even disrupt future fertility, study finds

  • Exposure to blue light can increase the risk of a child having precocious puberty and having fertility problems in the future
  • Researchers have found that exposure to blue light increases levels of certain reproductive hormones
  • As a result, young girls may go through puberty earlier, leading to an increased risk of cancer and mental health problems.
  • Precocious puberty rates have been rising in the United States for decades, worrying many experts

Exposure to blue light emitted by cellphones and tablets at a young age can increase a child’s risk of precocious puberty and may even harm their fertility in the future, according to a new study.

A Turkish research team found that blue light increased reproductive hormone levels in rats that were regularly exposed to it, causing them to go through puberty sooner and experience changes to their ovaries that could potentially harm reproduction. future fertility.

The dangers of blue light for sleep have long been explored and reported, but experts fear the widespread use of smartphones and tablets among young people is more harmful than anyone could have previously imagined.

It could also explain the jump in precocious puberty – when a child goes through puberty well before the usual time – experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic as millions of children have spent hours longer every day watching movies. screens.

Early puberty has been linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety throughout life, and even breast and uterine cancers.

A study reveals that exposure to blue light during infancy can increase a child’s risk of going through precocious puberty and also cause them long-term fertility problems. Early puberty is linked to an increased risk of mental health problems and even certain cancers later in life (file photo)

“We found that blue light exposure, sufficient to alter melatonin levels, is also able to alter reproductive hormone levels and cause earlier onset of puberty in our rat model. Also, the longer the exposure, the earlier the onset,” Dr. Aylin Kilinç Uğurlu said in a statement.

The researchers, who will present their findings on Friday at the 60th annual meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology, brought together 18 female rats for the study.

Young girls are going through puberty earlier than in the past – and experts say it could put them at risk for life

Young American girls are going through puberty at an earlier age than before, and while the causes are still unclear, some experts fear it could have negative effects on the health of young women later in life, both mentally and physically.

The average age of puberty in the United States has moved from the typical, biologically recognized age of 12 to 10 for women. Black and Hispanic girls in particular go through puberty about a year earlier on average.

Experts tell DailyMail.com the growing obesity crisis in the United States may be the root cause, blaming poor diets for delaying puberty. Others believe it could be caused by violent childhoods, and there is also the theory that it is linked to an imbalance of certain hormones.

There are also the long-term downsides, such as an association between early puberty and the development of cancer – which remains unexplained for now – and the traumatic experiences caused by a young girl growing up a bit too quickly.

The phenomenon was first detected by Dr Marcia Herman-Giddens, a public health expert at the University of North Carolina, when she began collecting data on more than 17,000 girls in the mid-1990s. .

She found that the average age of puberty was decreasing, falling to ten years, with some girls developing as young as six. His findings have spurred further research on the subject, with experts from many fields investigating the causes of this change and its long-term effects.

The causes and effects of precocious puberty, when a child goes through the process too early, are far-reaching and cannot be simply explained with a simple, one-size-fits-all solution.

Instead, the advancing age of puberty could be the result of various factors. And the consequences this can have on a girl’s life can be considerable.

The rodents were divided into three groups. One was placed on a normal light cycle, while the other two were exposed to six or 12 hours of blue light each day.

In both blue light groups, puberty occurred much earlier than expected.

Rats in the 12-hour group also had earlier puberty than the six-hour group, showing a correlation between increased blue light exposure and timing of puberty.

Rats in both blue light groups also had elevated levels of estradiol and reproductive luteinizing hormones, consistent with precocious puberty.

Physical changes in the rats’ ovarian tissue were also noted by the research team.

The researchers aren’t sure how consistent these findings would be with humans, but do point out a potential risk these ubiquitous devices may pose.

“As this is a study in rats, we cannot be sure that these results would be replicated in children, but these data suggest that blue light exposure could be considered a risk factor for early onset of puberty,” Uğurlu said.

The rats in the study were also found to have lower melatonin levels than their peers, which is also consistent with the harmful effects of blue light on human sleep.

Researchers fear that a generation of young children raised in a world where devices consume almost everything could cause rates of precocious puberty to rise, leading to many negative side effects.

Rates of precocious puberty in young girls in particular are increasing, and have been for decades.

The average age of puberty in the United States has moved from the typical, biologically recognized age of 12 to 10 for women. Black and Hispanic girls in particular go through puberty about a year earlier on average.

Experts told DailyMail.com in June that the growing obesity crisis in the United States may be the root cause, blaming poor diet for postponing puberty.

Others believe it could be caused by violent childhoods, and there is also the theory that it is linked to an imbalance of certain hormones.

There are also the long-term downsides, such as an association between early puberty and the development of cancer – which remains unexplained for now – and the traumatic experiences caused by a young girl growing up a bit too quickly.

The Turkish research team note that precocious puberty rates are believed to have skyrocketed over the past two years and fear that increased screen time for many children during lockdowns may have played a role.

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