A new study shows that girls as young a 7-years-old are experiencing early signs of puberty.

The study looks at 1,239 girls ranging from various races. According to the study, 10 percent of white, 23 percent of black and 14 percent of Hispanic girls have “breast stage two” which is known as the first stage of puberty.

Dr. Ivor Horn, Pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center in Washington, D.C. says these findings are not shocking.

“It’s not surprising because we are seeing the trend in our practices and I think that this is consistent with a previous study, but it’s telling us that unlike the previous study in 1997, more girls are developing at the age of 7 and 8.

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One chief researcher says these girls are reaching early puberty because of the rising obesity epidemic that plagues many American children.

“Girls who are obese have increased hormone levels and particularly they have increase in fat cells and fat increases hormones. So those girls who are developing earlier are also having earlier exposure to estrogen, higher levels of estrogen and studies have shown that link between estrogen and breast cancer,” Horn said.

However, obesity may not only be the sole culprit for this trend in girls. Horn says researchers have found that environmental factors such as certain chemicals may have caused girls to become prepubescent, but further research is needed.

“I think what investigators are doing is following over time and that’s going to give us more information. This is just the beginning, but it’s a great beginning for us to learn about what those future causes are,” Horn said.