Those who did not meet the criteria but showed other signs of early-onset puberty were defined as slowly progressive ICPP and were followed up with a second assessment. Data from those diagnosed with rapidly progressive ICPP pre-pandemic (between January 2016 and February 2020) were in one group, while girls diagnosed with the same condition during the pandemic (between March 2020 and June 2021) were put in another group. This time range aligned with the lockdowns in Italy, when schools were closed, and many had reduced physical activity. None of the girls in this study had COVID-19 before their diagnosis.Researchers were curious if the conditions of the lockdown contributed to the rates of ICPP in the second group. So they collected medical data on the girls in this group (body mass index (BMI), radiological data including bone age, uterine length, ovarian volume, and neuroradiological data) and also conducted phone interviews with their parents. On these calls, they inquired about lifestyle changes that occurred during the pandemic, including eating habits, exercise, screen time, etc. They also took into account the family history of early puberty.  The takeaway from these interviews was that in the group of girls experiencing early puberty during the pandemic, 88.5% of them stopped physical activity altogether due to the pandemic. Those in the group also spent an average of 2 or more hours a day using electronic devices. A higher incidence of rapidly progressive ICPP was found in the second group reported during the pandemic (53.5% of girls with suspected early puberty who were diagnosed with rapidly progressive ICPP) compared to those before it (41.1%).When broken down by age group, the incidence of early puberty in girls under the age of 8 was significantly higher during the pandemic, while those reaching puberty after 8 years of age were higher in the pre-pandemic group. The data also showed increased insulin levels in the group experiencing early puberty during the pandemic.”Further studies are needed to investigate how the increasing use of digital devices, the reduction of daily physical activity and changes in sleep patterns impact on body composition and fat distribution, and how this influences children’s pubertal development,” the researchers write in the study’s conclusion section.

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