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Raising awareness about early puberty

KP Research Radio looks at research into why girls are starting puberty earlier


In 1997, the journal Pediatrics published a study that showed pediatricians across the United States were seeing girls start puberty at younger ages than they had in the past. The study, which focused on girls ages 3 through 12, also showed that at every age Black girls had more indicators of pubertal development than white girls.

The findings sparked a field of interdisciplinary research into the risk factors for early puberty, the health risks associated with early puberty, and potential interventions.


Ai Kubo, PhD, MPH, a cancer epidemiologist and research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, was initially drawn to the field because of the studies that found early puberty increased risk for breast cancer. Today, she is a primary investigator on federally funded studies investigating social and environmental factors that increase risk of early puberty in boys and girls. This work includes identifying prenatal and other early-life factors that may increase the risk for early puberty. She is also investigating prevention strategies, such as a mindfulness program for Black and Latina women at risk of postpartum depression.

KP Research Radio spoke with Kubo about her research investigating the health impacts of early puberty.

To learn more about early puberty, see these new stories:

Girls who do not live with both parents more likely to start puberty early

Mother’s pregnancy weight linked to early puberty in daughters

Maternal weight and hyperglycemia linked to early puberty onset in girls



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