Girl, 7, experiences early puberty after sleeping with the lights on for 3 years

Girl, 7, experiences early puberty after sleeping with the lights on for 3 years

The reason behind her precocious puberty rested on her sleeping habits. For the past three years, the girl had been sleeping with the lights on...

More often than not, if your kid suddenly shoots up by 10cm, that's a cause for celebration. Though that's provided if your child has already reached the age for puberty.

Unfortunately for this mother in Ningbo, China, her daughter was only seven years old when she towered over her peers, standing at an astounding 120cm.

Not only that, but she had begun growing breasts too.

Reason for Precocious Puberty

The reason behind her early-onset puberty rested on her sleeping habits — for the past three years, Dandan (not her real name) had been sleeping with the lights on.

When the girl first underwent her growth spurt, her mother was delighted by her development, therefore paid little heed to her unnatural growth.

It wasn't until she was giving her daughter a shower that she realised Dandan had developed breasts. She even felt a few small lumps too, the woman told Zhejiang News.

After bringing her for a check-up, doctors discovered not only did Dandan's skeletal structure resemble one of a 10-year-old's, but her ovaries had also grown bigger.

"Under such circumstances, it is unlikely Dandan would grow any taller than 150cm," the doctor said to the horrified mother.

As they've already missed the crucial window period, even if they were to administer treatment for Dandan, the drugs would have little to no effect.

Dandan's mother was confused about her daughter's condition. If her daughter wasn't allowed to eat fried food, supplements or soft drinks, what would have led to her precocious puberty?

precocious puberty

She sleeps with the lights on

Further questioning about the girl's lifestyle revealed that she would always sleep with the lights on.

Her mother explained that in a bid to encourage Dandan to be more independent, she has been sleeping alone since she was four. However, as the child is afraid of the dark, she sleeps with the lights on.

The girl's doctor said melatonin production in children is highest at night. By sleeping with the lights on, it disrupts the body's natural production of the hormone and suppresses it.

A drop in melatonin production is linked with faster sexual maturation, according to recent research, and may be the reason why Dandan reached puberty at a much earlier age. 

Girls generally hit puberty around the age of nine to 11, while boys reach theirs slightly later around 11 to 13 years of age. 

"There are many reasons why a child would undergo precocious puberty, therefore it is important to find out the cause as soon as possible so we can stop it. Should osteophytes start forming, it would be too late already." Dandan's doctor explained.

Besides keeping a watchful eye over their children for signs of early puberty, parents are advised not to let their children consume too much protein and supplements, along with meat products that might have been injected with hormones.

In addition, children shouldn't be staring at screens for long hours and most importantly, to keep lights off while sleeping.

This article was republished with permission from AsiaOne.

Also READ: More children being diagnosed with precocious puberty in Singapore

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