Little Women

More girls are starting puberty at 8. What are the causes--and risks?

Caroll Taveras for TIME

Growth spurts are good — unless they happen too fast and too soon. Then they could suggest premature puberty

Years later, doctors still talk about the strange case of the cows that made the children grow up too fast. The children were all girls living in or around Michigan, and all of them were born sometime after 1973. The cows were just cows--but ones that had been given very nasty feed.

Through a manufacturing error that was never quite explained, factory workers inadvertently mixed a fire retardant containing polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) instead of a nutritional additive into animal feed. Before long, cows around the state were giving birth to stillborn calves and milk production was plummeting--but not before thousands of...

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