Showing all the trappings of a young adult, one would need more than just words to believe that Funke (surname withheld) is just eight years old.
At her age, she already developed breasts, one of the primary indicators of puberty in females. And the way other parts are growing very rapidly would almost give an impression that she’s someone in her early 20s.
But, truly, Funke is eight, according to her dad, who also expressed surprise with the way she’s ‘growing’, and is now unsettled due to the girl’s likely premature sexual attention from men. He is equally unsure if the situation is normal, more so that she has also started menstruating. The medical term for early puberty is called precocious puberty.
Realistically, Funke is not alone and her father’s fear is quite understandable. In fact, her case is a fitting reflection of what now obtains across the world, whereby young girls now show obvious signs of reaching puberty, as against what obtained in the past, say about 20 years ago, when girls wouldn’t exhibit any sign of puberty until about 15 years upwards.
Meanwhile, other indicators of puberty include underarm hair, certain body odour, since the sweat gland would have become active, pubic hair and vaginal discharge, which is a precursor of menarche, the first occurrence of menstruation. All these are now happening to girls below 12, and according to a study published in Paediatrics as far back as 2010, a number of the girls surveyed had reached puberty as early as seven years, evidenced by breast development.
According to a consultant paediatrician, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, the average age a girl is supposed to attain puberty is 11, but “these days some of them show those signs at age eight.”
However, there are reasons for this early puberty, and it is pertinent to point them out, perhaps to allay the fears of such parents. These reasons include:
Obesity: Literally, obesity is caused by eating too much and moving too little. Thus, if you consume a high quantity of food, particularly fat and sugar, and you don’t burn off the energy through exercise and physical activity, much of the surplus energy will be stored by the body as fat and that leads to overweight or obesity.
This was the explanation given by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. While it is seen as a general problem, obesity has been found to be a major cause of early puberty, especially in girls. Dr. Adesanya explained that girls now reach puberty early because they eat junk food, snacks, oily food, etc., without doing exercises.
He said these days; children would rather play computer games or play games on their parents’ or siblings’ smartphones rather than go out to do exercise. Thus, that lifestyle of eating without exercising has led to obesity and now makes them to reach puberty early.
He said, “Obesity has strong links with precocious puberty and what favours it is the diet and sedentary lifestyle. Children no longer do exercises; they don’t trek to their school the way we did back then, which helped us to burn fat from our body. So, that is one major cause of early puberty.”
Stress: This is one other factor that has been found to aid early puberty in girls. Adesanya explained that traumatic experiences and emotional problems impact on the female reproductive system. He said this had to do with the interconnection among the brain, emotions and the reproductive system, like the hormones controlling breast growth and menstruation. “Children that go through a traumatic experience or emotional problems may see their period earlier, even though the impact is not as high as that of obesity.
Also, a study by a professor of family studies and human development, Bruce Ellis, and Prof. Marilyn Essex of the University of Wisconsin found that family conflict could influence how early or late girls attain puberty. In the study, which was reviewed on WebMD, a website that provides valuable health information and tools for managing health, they asked the parents of the girls about their economic difficulty, marital problems, parenting style and family stress.
It was revealed that girls who live in families with great parental support and less marital conflict experience their first hormonal changes later in life than girls who live in homes where there are marital conflict, family issues, poor parent support, depressed parents and other such unpleasant issues.
These were identified to be associated with puberty. “Even modest family conflict or stress may influence a young girl’s sexual development and these were the normal stresses of growing up, not serious abuses,” Essex tells WebMD.
Now that it is almost inevitable for children to reach puberty early, because children from the rich or average income earning homes are likely to eat so much or even eat junk food, those from poor homes could be stressed emotionally, and those from either divide could come from home with family issues, girls who show signs of puberty should not be treated as aliens.
This development has no doubt made them endangered species, given the rate of rape and sexual abuse, but parents have been advised to pay more attention to their young female children, because their changing physique could make them attractive to the males, even when they are not mature enough to refuse such (negative) gestures.
An endocrinologist, Dr. Glenn Braunstein, said open communication, nurture, and knowledge of the child’s activities would be good ways to prevent the child from getting into such avoidable troubles. In his analysis on Huffpost, Braunstein said whether puberty arrives early or later at the more expected time, it is always a challenge for children, especially girls and that it was up to parents, guardians and older siblings to help them to be the finest men and women possible, by assisting them through that stage.
He added, “Parental nurture, generally considered a key factor in curbing risk-taking, may be even more important for early-maturing girls. The thinking is that parental influence can help decrease these youngsters’ susceptibility to peer influence, assist them in developing better coping skills and diffuse negative feelings that might turn into negative thoughts and actions.”
Another solution advanced is sex education, which according to experts, will prepare the girls for the change that is to come and what to do when it comes eventually. However, the experts stressed that one way to make this effective is for parents to encourage their children to communicate freely with them.
A consultant paediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Elizabeth Oyenusi, had said at age eight, a female child should be taught about sex, so they don’t learn about it from outside or do so the hard way.
She had said, “Whether for a male or female child, once they clock eight years, parents should talk to them about sex, and there is no need to use nicknames or graphics, more so that such children are exposed to different images on the television or even the Internet. A girl is ready for such education when her breasts begin to come out or when she clocks eight.”
Apart from this, parents are advised to teach their children when to say no, and that in certain (identified) situations, it is okay to say no to an adult. It has also been found to be helpful when children are taught where they should not be touched by others; how to get out of an uncomfortable situation and what to do if the adult wouldn’t let go.
A forensic psychologist and expert in the field of mental health, violence, mental health and addiction, Dr. Kathryn Seifert, in his post on Psychology Today, noted that given the way young girls tend to be susceptible to male attention, even at that young age – since they already show signs of puberty – highlighted ways by which parents could avoid such negative occurrences from happening to their children.
She said parents must encourage their kids to talk to them about how their day went, teach them when to run away from an adult, take action and let them see their parents take action when they make reports, which she said would build their confidence level.
She added, “Teach children that the danger may come from someone they trust. Tell your kids that bad touch is bad touch and no one gets to do it to our bodies. If anyone does bad touch, you go to a grown-up for help. When you are not sure about whether something a grown up is doing is okay, ask another grown up to help you.
“Also, take action if you suspect abuse; understand the signs, such as significant changes in sleeping, eating, mood, or strange behaviour that does not quickly go away; and know where your children are and who they are with at all times.”
Nigeria: Antibody-based COVID-19 test kits failed medical lab council evaluation
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has disclosed that only four of the COVID-19 test kits said to be in use in Nigeria have been evaluated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria and all four failed the validation tests and results; therefore, “the tests obtained from these kits may be wrong and misleading”
Dr. Ehanire said, “The NCDC certified laboratories in Nigeria use WHO recognized PCR testing methods which give reliable result. “Though expensive, this option is right and we have 30 laboratories deployed, with the aim of establishing at least one laboratory in every state.”
In view of the failure of some of the test kits in use, the Minister has urged healthcare workers to ensure they are properly protected with the appropriate PPEs and have a high index of suspicion when treating patients. He also advised the general public to continue to adhere to the guidelines on prevention and control of COVID-19.
Further, Dr. Ehanire revealed that there are some COVID-19 medical supplies being expected from Beijing, and to be able to haul in the expected COVID-19 supplies to Abuja, the Minister of Health said that West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and Nigeria are presently working together on a cost-sharing plan for a common air transport plane.
These much and more were disclosed by the Honourable Minister at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing on Thursday 4th June, 2020 as the outcome of a virtual meeting of the ECOWAS COVID-19 Ministerial Coordination Committee on Health, hosted by the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and attended by 15 ECOWAS Ministers of Health or their representatives held on Tuesday May 2nd, 2020.
The Ministerial Coordination Committee on Health of WAHO is one of the three Committees set up to facilitate the work of the ECOWAS COVID-19 response champion, in the person of President Muhamadu Buhari, who was elected on April 23, 2020, at a virtual meeting of ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments.
Dr. Ehanire disclosed that the Meeting compared notes, discussed matters of regional cooperation and collaboration around the COVID-19 strategy and response, border-related challenges on movement of people and goods when borders are reopened.
In a similar development, the Minister disclosed that, he represented President Muhammadu Buhari at a virtual Global Vaccine Summit that was hosted by the UK Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, the purpose of which, was to mark 20 years since GAVI was founded, and also to raise funds to support its activities.
Speaking further, Dr. Ehanire updated that the nation currently has a total of 11,166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,329 have been treated successfully and discharged, while 315 deaths have been recorded. According to him, “the daily epidemic curve of confirmed cases shows a consistently rising trajectory with corresponding increase in fatalities, but nothing comparable with what is observed in some foreign countries. To rest on our oars for that reason, would be a serious mistake. COVID-19 is real and we have explained that the increase in cases is due to improving testing capacity and of activities of other response pillars, such as surveillance, community mobilization, coordination, contact tracing improved awareness, the demographics and other factors.”
The Minister also updated the nation that the teams deployed to Lagos and Ogun States have returned: They visited the State EOCs, identified State specific challenges and exchanged ideas with health workers.
He added that “the team to Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa Borno, Katsina, Gombe will submit their final reports Friday, 5th June, 2020. The preliminary reports, he said show that the goals of the intervention were met.”
Bello insists Kogi is COVID-19 free, lifts lockdown in Kabba-Bunu
The Yahaya Bello led Kogi State government has lifted the lockdown imposed on Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area of the state over suspected cases of COVID-19.
Governor Bello, on Friday announced this at the Government House in Lokoja, the state capital.
The governor informed that the decision became necessary after the result of all the samples taken and subjected to tests by the health workers in the local government came out negative.
As a result of this, Bello insisted that Kogi has remained a COVID-19-free state.
The governor also urged the people of the state to adhere strictly to the protocols of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to curb the spread of the disease.
Governor Bello had earlier ordered a 14-day total lockdown in Kabba-Bubu in a state broadcast on Monday.
Oyo discharges 11 COVID-19 cases at Olodo Infectious Disease Centre
The Oyo State Task Force on COVID-19, on Friday, recorded a major victory in its ongoing fight against the novel Coronavirus when it discharged 11 persons after they tested negative to COVID-19 twice.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, in a statement quoted a member of the Task Force and former Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Professor Temitope Alonge, as saying that after the discharge of the 11 cases, the Centre now had 32 patients and that all but one, were in stable condition.
The statement added that of the 11 persons discharged at the Infectious Disease Centre, Olodo, Ibadan, three were females and eight were males.
According to Alonge, eight of the discharged persons were the Northerners who came from Sokoto axis.
He said: “We all must have behind our minds that this novel coronavirus, even though it belongs to a particular family, is not in any way similar to the HIV virus, meaning that it does not reside in you forever as it were. It has a span of time that it stays and your body’s immune system is built up enough to be able to get rid of it and you come back to normal.
“But, of course, if at the time you have a high load of the virus, you happen to have some other co-morbidities or you are under some treatment that reduces your immunity, then you can have a full flare. So, it is not like the HIV virus that you have to use medications to suppress or reduce their effects.
“When patients come down and they are tested as positive, it means the load of the virus is enough to make them feel sickly. When they are in isolation, what we do is to boost their immunity. There are so many regimens in the world that are being tried and used but here, our patients have stuck to a very simple regimen. They all have 500mg of azithromycin daily for three days. They also have zinc on a daily basis. 2gram of Vitamin C, Chloroquine 500mg and 250mg for another three days.
“We are privileged to have linked up with our colleagues in UCH, who have been exceptionally wonderful. So, we are not only looking at their symptoms but also the viral load and their CT. But the value of the CT is also in correlation with the value of the viral load. The higher the viral load, the lower the CT value.”
The ex-CMD maintained that there were now 32 active patients at the Infectious Disease Centre, noting that all of them except one were in stable condition.
“We have 32 (patients). All of them are very stable. We only have one of them who has a comorbid issue and, as I speak, one of our senior consultants from the University College Hospital is attending to him. Also, another consultant in the Psychiatry Department will come and counsel this particular client on the use of medications, because we found out that he was using too many medications that can be injurious to his health.
“Apart from that, everybody is fine. We even have a family here; father, mother, and children and they are doing exceptionally well.
“Eight of those cases discharged are the Northerners who came from the Sokoto axis. Since they are now negative, they want to go back to Sokoto.”
Speaking earlier, one of the discharged persons (names withheld), who spoke on behalf of the other patients, appreciated the state government, the governor and the medical personnel at the Centre.
She said: “On behalf of all of us here who are COVID-19 patients, we want to appreciate Governor Seyi Makinde. We pray that God will reward him.
“We experienced good care. They took us as their sisters and brothers. They did not stigmatise us. So, we really appreciate all the doctors and nurses. We really appreciate the Oyo State government.”
When asked what her experience was while in isolation, she maintained she and most of those in the Centre were asymptomatic, saying: “I did not show any symptoms. I just went for the test voluntarily. So, after nine days, they called me that the test came out positive and I was asked to come to the isolation centre to quarantine myself.
“The test was conducted on me on the 22nd of April at Etiosa Local Government, but I was already in Ibadan when they told me the result and I was asked to go into isolation in Ibadan because there was no isolation centre in Lagos again.”
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