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      The Practicing Parent: Obese Girls May Reach Puberty Earlier

      Girls in the United States hitting puberty at a much younger age than their mothers or grandmothers did.

      Scientists are always looking for reasons, and one of those seems to be weight.

      Doctors say young females who physically mature faster are at higher risk of low self-esteem, depression, promiscuity and lower grades. Research shows they also have a greater risk of becoming obese, developing hypertension and suffering from breast, ovarian and edometrial cancers.

      What's the cause of early puberty?

      According to a new study reported in Pediatrics, weight has a lot to do with it.

      The National Institutes of Health study is one of the largest studies to look at obesity and its effects on prepubescent girls of all races. Scientists examined more than 1,200 girls, who were 6 to 8 years old at the beginning of the study, noting their race or ethnicity along with their breast development as they aged and their weight.

      The data was collected in three locations, the San Francisco bay area, Cincinnati and New York City.

      The full study can be found in the journal, Pediatrics.