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HomescienceBabies start menstruating early. Here's what this means for their health

Babies start menstruating early. Here's what this means for their health

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Younger generations have their first period earlier, and the time it takes for menstruation to become regular changes, which could indicate health problems later on, according to a new study.

“Among individuals born between 1950 and 2005, we found that younger generations started their first menstrual cycle earlier. “Among individuals born between 1950 and 2005, we found that younger generations started their first menstrual cycle earlier,” Zifan Wang, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement. “The time it takes for menstruation to become regular has also increased,” via email.

Hey A study published at the end of May in JAMA Network OpenThe researchers analyzed data from more than 70,000 participants who completed questionnaires as part of the Apple Women's Health Study, a long-term analysis of menstrual cycles using data from the Apple Health mobile app.

The data was collected digitally, relying on people to self-report information based on their memories of early menstruation, thus limiting the results, warns Zifan Wang. but Other analyses Documenting the trend First menstrual cycles It starts at an early age and over time.

In the latest study, researchers compared trends in ages at first menstruation and how long it takes for menstruation to become regular across age groups, explains Zifan Wang. They found that the trends were stronger for people from racial and ethnic minority groups and/or those of lower socioeconomic status.

“This is important because early menstruation and irregular periods can indicate physical and psychosocial problems later in life,” Wang highlights. “These trends could contribute to future health problems and inequality in the United States.”

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vital sign

Your menstrual cycle is like a vital sign, explains Eve Feinberg, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. The specialist did not participate in the research.

“We want to make sure the body is regulated,” Feinberg says. “And when cycles aren't regular, it's usually a sign that something else might be going on.”

Scientists and health care providers already know that earlier periods and longer menstrual cycle times are associated with negative health effects, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, Wang says.

The longer young women have irregular menstrual periods, the longer they experience an imbalance between two important hormones: estrogen and progesterone, explains Eve Feinberg.

He adds that estrogen gives a signal for growth, while progesterone gives a signal to stop this growth. To prevent diseases such as uterine cancer, it is necessary to have adequate signals to start and stop growth.

In theory, longer exposure to estrogen without a good progesterone balance could be a cause of increased endometrial cancer and future fertility problems, the expert says, adding that early menstruation, in and of itself, can pose problems.

Furthermore, for an eight-year-old going through puberty, there is often a disconnect between the age of the child's mind and body.

Where do these trends come from?

The next question is: Why are these menstrual trends changing?

Early periods may be associated with BMI During childhood, Zifan Wang says.

He adds: “This means that childhood obesity, which has been increasing in the United States, may contribute to early menstruation.”

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Feinberg adds that the cause could also be other environmental factors, such as nutrition or the spread of microplastics, stressing that more research is needed.

Additional studies could help doctors better advise women about menstruation and recognize the impact on their patients' health, says Shruthi Mahalingaiah, one of the research's lead investigators and an assistant professor of environmental, reproductive, and women's health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Feinberg stressed that doctors should evaluate children with early menstruation or long-term irregular cycles to make sure there is not an underlying problem.

“Sometimes just using birth control pills at an early age to help provide early exposure to progesterone can provide more cycle control and may even be protective,” Eve Feinberg says. “But I think the key may be understanding why and acting on the root problem.”

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