Advent of westernization & prior exposure to stimulating factors contribute as causes

|| SHEIKH UMAR AHMAD

      Puberty is the stage in one’s life when body begins to develop and change as a person steps into the adult age. During puberty body grows faster than at any other stage in life except for infant stage. Puberty starts on average in girls between the age of eight to 13, and in boys between the age of nine to 14. When this stage is disturbed due to any external or internal stimulus, its onset is earlier called as precocious puberty, influencing greatly the body physiology of subject concerned.

     Doctors diagnose early puberty when the process starts early and continues to progress through growth spurts and bone maturation, usually for reasons not understood yet. Girls who show significant signs of puberty and its progression before the age of seven and boys before the age of nine are considered precocious. At least one out of 5,000 children is affected. The signs of early puberty are usually the same. It’s basically the timing that is different. In girls, signs include breast development which is often the first sign, Menstruation typically not until two to three years after the earlier symptoms start and in boys, it includes growth of the testicles, penis, and scrotum.

     A deepening voice usually late signs of puberty and growth spurts are other signs of early puberty. As per scientific notion, there are various types of early onset hormonal changes depending on the involvement of brain and pituitary gland as central precocious puberty in which hormonal change is triggered by stimulus generated by brain and pituitary and peripheral precocious puberty or pseudo-puberty in which hormonal change induced symptoms does not include due involvement of brain and pituitary. While they aren’t experimentally known causes, a number of factors seem to be related to early puberty.

     They include gender, genetics and obesity – considered as main culprits. It is thought that girls are 10 times more likely to develop precocious puberty compared to boys. A number of studies have also shown association between obesity and precocious puberty in young girls. Genetic mutations triggering changes due to release of sex hormones are also thought to play a major role in the early onset of puberty. Various other factors including exposure to stimulating factors like western-ism and mass media like internet have a role to play. The advent of western culture has developed an inner inquisitiveness towards sexual attractions in opposite sexes at a tender age, thus acting as a connecting link between early and late onset of the puberty.

A number of studies have shown association between obesity and precocious puberty in young girls. Genetic mutations triggering changes due to release of sex hormones are also thought to play a major role in the early onset of puberty. The advent of western culture has developed an inner inquisitiveness towards sexual attractions in opposite sexes at a tender age, thus acting as a connecting link between early and late onset of the puberty.

       The over use of personal electronic gadgets like mobile phones and laptops also changed the perception of children towards very negativity. Children in grooming stage tend to adopt those activities that give them internal satisfaction rather to think of what is right and what is wrong for them. It should be our collective responsibility to put thorough screening procedures of our children so that they use what is best for them and show restraint from what will lead them to astray. If western culture overpowers our local and cultural ethos, we surely will repent in the long run. We must revive our true Islam- based cultural system so that our identity is not lost in wake of adopting oversees culture. (Author is research fellow, working on Melanoma (Skin Cancer) at CSIR, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu)