The HPV Vaccine Reduces the STD in Teen Girls by 64%

HPV vaccine (The Guardian UK)

HPV vaccine (The Guardian UK)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), and it’s estimated that most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives.

Fortunately, there’s a way to prevent the spread with the HPV vaccine. The vaccine has been around for ten years, so it’s a great time to amass some longitudinal data.

Just how effective is the HPV vaccine?

Earlier this year, “Pediatrics” released a study examining just that. Researchers looked at the HPV vaccine in teenage girls ages 14-19, and women ages 20-24. Effectiveness in the latter category resulted in a 34% decrease of the virus. That’s impressive, right? Effectiveness for teenage girls hovers around a 64% decrease. This thing is mad effective.

Obviously, the data shows that it’s best to get the HPV vaccine early in life. But unfortunately, the vaccine isn’t as widely known or used as it should be. Right now, only around 40% of teenage girls and 20% of teenage boys get the vaccine. (Yes, the vaccine is recommended for boys too.)

Getting the vaccine has ramifications beyond one’s teenage years: The virus can cause health issues such as genital warts and cancers affecting the genital areas. The HPV virus is particularly responsible for cervical cancer, which affects around 11K+ women a year.

Hopefully this data will persuade others to make getting the vaccine a top priority.

Why Are Girls Entering Puberty Earlier?

Teen girl (Barnorama)

Teen girl (Barnorama)

It might seem like teenage girls are looking younger and younger each year, but there’s some truth to that. Researchers are finding that the age of onset puberty has been declining over the years, and girls are beginning to physically resemble grown women at younger ages.

A 2010 study put out by “Pediatrics,” the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) journal, followed a cohort of 1.2K+ girls between the ages of six and eight years of age from New York, Cincinnati and San Francisco. The study measured breast “budding,” normally the first physical step in female puberty. The results found that girls were beginning this stage around ages seven or eight, which is earlier than girls who were born only 10 years ago. (Incidentally, there was no change in age of first menstruation.)

This is even earlier than what was found in a previous AAP study completed in 1997. That year, results showed that girls began puberty between eight and nine years of age.

So what’s been causing the change? There appears to be a link between sugary drinks and early onset puberty for girls. The study defined early puberty as age of first menstruation, but not by breast budding.

It appears more research is needed, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.