Exposure to blue light from smartphones and tablets may accelerate the onset of early puberty in males, according to a study conducted on mice. This research, presented at the 61st Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting in The Hague, the Netherlands, offers insights into the impact of environmental factors, such as screen time, on early puberty and testicular development. These findings could potentially pave the way for preventive strategies concerning children's health.
Early puberty in children often lacks a clear cause, occasionally being attributed to genetics, brain-related issues like injury or tumours, or problems with the thyroid, adrenal, or sex glands. In recent years, there has been an observed increase in early puberty in both girls and boys, with a notable rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. One contributing factor under scrutiny is the augmented use of blue light-emitting devices, though assessing its precise impact on children remains challenging.
The study, conducted by researchers from Ankara Bilkent City Hospital and Gazi University in Turkey, involved 18 male rats aged 21 days, divided into three groups. These groups were exposed to different lighting conditions: a regular light cycle, six hours of blue light, or 12 hours of blue light. The results indicated that male rats exposed to blue light exhibited early signs of puberty. Furthermore, the duration of exposure correlated with the timing of puberty onset, and these rats showed impaired sperm development and damaged testicular tissue.
Dr Aylin Kilinc Ugurlu, the lead researcher from Ankara Bilkent City Hospital, noted, "For the first time, we found a direct relationship between blue light exposure and early puberty in male rats." This study builds upon previous research on female rats that showed similar effects, providing a more comprehensive understanding of how blue light may influence puberty in both genders.
While the findings suggest that blue light exposure could potentially contribute to early puberty, the researchers emphasized that more research is necessary to establish direct links to humans. Ugurlu stressed, "I want to emphasize that this is a rat study, and direct results cannot be interpreted for humans. However, we provide an experimental foundation to further investigate the health consequences of ever-increasing screen time in modern society."
The next phase of the research will focus on assessing the impact of blue light exposure on adult rats before puberty onset. This ongoing investigation aims to shed more light on the potential health implications of excessive screen time in our increasingly digital world.
Inputs from IANS