PBBs in fire retardant associated with early menstruation in Michigan girls whose mothers were exposed in 1973

December 07, 2000

Chemical Exposures Linked to Early Puberty

Foods that were contaminated in Michigan in 1973, when a fire retardant containing the chemical polybrominated biphenyl PBB was accidentally mixed with animal feed, have been associated with an early onset of menstruation and pubic hair in some daughters of the women exposed, scientists reported in the journal Epidemiology (Nov. 2000, Vol. 11, No. 6.)

The daughters of the most highly exposed women began menstruation, on average, before they reached their twelfth birthdays.

The study by scientists at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and the Michigan Department of Community Health, was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development.

In 1973, a fire retardant containing PBBs, was mistakenly mixed with cattle feed in place of a feed additive. The contamination was eventually discovered when milk production went down and calves were stillborn or born with hoof deformities. By the time the source of the PBBs was identified, at least 4,000 people had been exposed through contaminated meat and dairy products. PBB accumulates in fatty tissue in the body and is stored for years.

In the current study, researchers contacted female offspring, 5 to 24 years of age, born after the Michigan PBB incident to mothers listed as exposed to PBB in the Michigan PBB registry. Those with earliest menstruation were daughters of mothers with the highest estimated serum levels of PBBs during pregnancy, who had also nursed their infant daughters, giving them both prenatal and breast milk exposures. In the PBB study, the most highly exposed girls were a year ahead in starting their periods, at 11.6 years compared to 12.7 years for less-exposed girls. "This study lends support to the hypothesis that events associated with puberty may be affected by pre- and postnatal exposure to PBB's," Michele Marcus, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study.

This is the second study to associate early puberty with exposure to a specific chemical. The first study, by Ivelisse Colon and co-authors, appearing in the NIEHS journal Environmental Health Perspectives in September (Vol. 108, Number 9) associated precocious puberty in young girls in Puerto Rico with the plasticizer chemicals called phthalates.

The largest study to date to determine the incidence of precocious puberty in the United States was published by Marcia Herman-Giddens in the journal Pediatrics in 1997, and with a sample size of 17,000 showed that 1 in every 7 Caucasian girls and 1 out of every 2 African American girls develop breasts or pubic hair before the age of 8. In the current study, the girls who were most highly exposed to PBBs had pubic hair at an earlier age than less-exposed girls. However there were no differences found in timing of breast development.
-end-
EMORY UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONTACT:
Sarah Goodwin 404-727-3366 or
Holly Korschun 404-727-3990

NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Related Puberty Articles from Brightsurf:

Risk of self-harm increases for boys and girls who experience earlier puberty
Boys and girls who experience puberty earlier than their peers have an increased risk of self-harm in adolescence, a study funded by the National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC) and published in the journal Epidemiology & Psychiatric Sciences today [Tuesday 6 October] has found.

Study suggests men more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they go through puberty early
Boys who enter puberty at an early age are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as adults than later developing boys, irrespective of their weight in childhood, according to an observational study following more than 30,600 Swedish men born between 1945 and 1961, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).

Differences in airway size develop during puberty, new study finds
Sex differences in airway size are not innate, but likely develop because of hormonal changes around puberty, reports a new study by the University of Waterloo.

First genomic study of puberty yields insights into development and cancer
In the first-ever genome-scale analysis of the puberty process in humans, researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) outline distinct and critical changes to stem cells in males during adolescence.

Scientists identify new puberty-promoting genes
A team of neuroscientists led by Professor Christiana Ruhrberg (UCL, UK) and Professor Anna Cariboni (University of Milan, Italy) have found two molecules that work together to help set up the sense of smell and pave the way to puberty in mice.

Father's obesity in puberty doubles the risk of asthma in his future offspring
A Norwegian study shows that boys who are obese in pre-puberty have an over two times higher risk of having children with asthma than those who are not.

Research shows puberty changes the brains of boys and girls differently
Scientists have found that brain networks develop differently in males and females at puberty, with boys showing an increase in connectivity in certain brain areas, and girls showing a decrease in connectivity as puberty progresses.

Bone strength could be linked to when you reached puberty
A new study from the University of Bristol has linked bone strength to the timing of puberty.

Study illustrates gaps in knowledge and lack of support for girls during puberty
A study examined girls' transitions through puberty in Madagascar and ways in which menstruation influences their educational experiences and future sexual and reproductive health.

Obesity speeds up the start of puberty in boys, study finds
Girls are not the only ones who go through puberty early if they have obesity.

Read More: Puberty News and Puberty Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.