Exposure to TV shows and other media depicting sex could lead to sexual precocity in children, a doctor warned, suggesting parents protect their young children from such material.
In a study of 5,000 children conducted over 10 years, Dr. Hou Chia-wei of Cathay General Hospital in Taipei found that most cases of sexual precocity were related to obesity and one fifth of sexually precocious children had long been exposed to TV shows with sexual content.
Following are excerpts of reports by major Taiwanese newspapers on the issue:
The United Daily News:
Sex scenes and images of scantily dressed actors could stimulate the endocrine mechanism of the hypothalamic-pituitary-sex glands, which could lead to early onset of menstruation, said Tsai Feng-po, director of a gynecology clinic in Changhua, central Taiwan.
Niu Tao-ming, a doctor at Taipei’s Veterans General Hospital, said the number of patients seeking medical help for sexual precocity has increased 100 percent over the past five years.
However, more scientific evidence will be required to prove that the trend is related to the surge in sexually explicit TV shows, he said.
Niu said what has been scientifically established is a link between sexual precocity and obesity. “Even the link between this problem and the intake of environmental hormones such as plasticizers and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) are mostly inferred,” he added.
Experts suggested that parents cut down their children’s intake of fatty meat to avoid obesity and limit their exposure to TV dramas and cartoons with sexually explicit content.
Niu said one way to tell if a girl is become sexually precocious is to observe her physical development around the age of seven. If she starts developing breasts and growing pubic hair one or two years later, “it’s time to seek medical attention,” he advised.
If she has already had her first period by then, it is usually too late to stop sexual precocity, he said. Girls usually grow another 5 centimeters at most after the onset of menstruation, he added.