Air pollution possibly delays menarche. A surprising result of a study

These days girls are hitting puberty at a very early age due to various reasons - (1) increased childhood obesity due to sedentary lifestyle and gorging on unhealthy, junk food, eating meat & poultry treated with antibiotics and hormones, soft drink consumption, exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)  by usage of plastics containing BPA & phthalates for storing food  & beverages,  exposure to Dichlobenzene in moth balls, air fresheners and deodorizers, acute stress or extreme sensitivity to stress in childhood years,  in-utero exposure to excessive female hormones such as estrogen if the mother was administered the same during IVF or IUI procedures etc.  

Precocious puberty (2) has become a huge issue in recent times.

girl worried about irregular, delayed periods

So I was kind of surprised to read this piece which says that air pollution could possibly delay the age girls start their period. Along with delay in the onset of menarche it also causes irregularity in periods as well as disrupts hormones. Some excerpts:

Air pollution delays the age girls start their periods, according to the first study of its kind.

Exposure to total suspended particulate (TSP), which are particles circulating in the air, which is largely made up of vehicle exhaust and coal combustion fumes, is thought to disrupt hormone production in people's bodies.

In females, this can cause excessive amounts of male sex hormones, such as testosterone, which the researchers believe could delay or disrupt girls' periods. 

air pollution due to vehicle fumes

Study author Dr Shruthi Mahalingaiah from Boston University, said: 'While air pollution exposures have been linked to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, this study suggests there may be other systems, such as the reproductive endocrine system, that are affected as well.'    

Results of the study reveal that for every 45 μg/m3 increase in TSP exposure during high school, girls have an eight percent higher risk of suffering moderate or persistent irregularity as well as increase in male hormone production by up to 11 percent.

To answer the question, "Is starting periods late a health risk?", researchers says that there is no clear research linking a girl starting her period at a later age to poor health.

However, starting periods at an earlier age before the age of 9 is linked to host of problems. The most significant and alarming consequence of early puberty is an increased risk for breast cancer in adulthood. (1)

Also there is a increased risk for cardiovascular diseases in later life. Furthermore, young girls of 7, 8 or 9 years old are not emotionally or psychologically equipped to handle puberty. As such, earlier puberty is also associated with a higher risk of psychological problems during adolescence such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.


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  1. Yashomati5:16 PM

    exposure to pollution among teen girls—aged 14 to 18— is associated with slightly increased chances of menstrual irregularity. a study which has found that negative health effects from air pollution exposure may lead to infertility, metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome

  2. Dr ASHA5:18 PM

    poor menstrual cycle can also occur due to increase in weight, wrong eating habits, less physical exercise and poor lifestyle pattern
    “Poor air quality can cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues but prolonged breathing in bad air quality can create stress and other hormonal issues in the body.


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