Puberty before 10?

The NYTimes has an interesting and lengthy article about little girls who are getting some secondary sexual characteristics – including pubic hair and developing breasts – very early.  They are also doing some follow up on the topic with a 3 pm EST discussion on the Time’s facebook page today.

For me the two most important claims made were:

1.  If you use this as an opportunity to engage your family with the problems located in your daughter’s body, you may well do very lasting damage.  As it is, someone out of step with her peers’ development has enough problems to worry about.

2.  What is going on in many cases may not actually involve a genuine puberty.  In fact, the age for starting menstruation is remaining fairly much the same.  One hypothesis is that it is environmental estrogens that are causing the development of second sexual characteristics.

Apparently, genuine puberty requires brain changes that trigger a lot of different responses, and in many early development cases that does not seem to have happened.  This fact is fortunate, since a genuine early puberty can have serious consequences for skeleton growth and development.

BPA has been a concern for some years, since it is mildly estrogenic.  However, on Friday, March 30, the US’s Food and Drug Administration  refused to ban the use of BPA in food containers since it said the scientific evidence for the ban is insufficient.  It is doing further testing on the issue.

Reader Query: Inspiring women who started philosophy later?

A reader asks:

I’m an assistant prof who is considerably older than the traditional cohort. Philosophy has a number of people who’ve worked in other careers before coming to philosophy. The late Peter Goldie is often cited to me as an example of a person who got his start in philosophy when he was my age – I’m in my mid 40s, fast approaching 50. I suspect (I hope?) there are also women in philosophy who have had this career trajectory. The problem is, when I ask around, no one can give me any names!

Looking for inspiring role models…