GUANGZHOU: Kids are growing up faster because of nutritious food and access to pornography, doctors claim.
The number of children experiencing the early onset of puberty has doubled over the past 10 years, according to a survey analyzing children's endocrine diseases by the Women and Children's Hospital of Guangdong Province.
The survey found the average age for the onset of puberty of Guangzhou's children dropped to 11 years old from the previous age of 13.
Based on those figures, the frequency of earlier puberty among children in Guangzhou also rose to 1.3 percent this year, from 0.5 percent 10 years ago. This is 0.3 percent higher than the national average.
This means that in some cases, boys as young as nine-and-a-half, and girls as young as eight are developing secondary sexual characteristics.
Some girls are even starting their periods before they are 10, the survey said.
"There are a few reasons why more children are experiencing the early onset of puberty," said Zeng Ke, a senior doctor at the incretion department of the Women and Children's Hospital of Guangdong Province.
He said Guangzhou's citizens have a rich diet, including nourishing soups, seafood and animal innards.
Parents also give their children supplements, such as deer antler and ginseng extracts.
These foods, Zeng said, are high in protein or essential elements and accelerate children's growth.
"Western fast foods, such as burgers and fries from McDonalds or KFC, are favored by children and can increase their development," Li Wangen, a doctor at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical College, said.
The other reason for early development is improper sex education, Zeng said. Children have easy access to books, movies or music that are pornographic.
If parents do not protect their children from exposure to pornographic material they will become sexually precocious, Zeng said.
The survey found the number of children with the onset of early puberty was less in rural areas than in the city.