American Boys are Hitting Puberty Earlier
29 Oct 2012
The scientific consensus is that girls are hitting puberty earlier than ever, but what about boys? A new study has found that American boys appear to be maturing sexually at an earlier age as well. Scientists are crediting higher levels of childhood obesity and chemicals in our food and water. The study, conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), included data of more than 4,000 boys aged between 6 and 16 from 41 states in the U.S.
This finding is important for researchers who are seeking to understand why the age of puberty may be declining. The study is also significant for parents, who have to know how and when to talk to their children about puberty. Additionally, even though boys are developing earlier than in the past, that doesn’t mean they are more mature psychologically at younger ages. This disparity between physical maturation and psychosocial maturation could lead to problems on a social level.
Initially, when researchers found that girls were maturing a younger age, doctors blamed estrogen-like chemicals in the environment. However, those chemicals would also be expected to delay sexual maturation in boys. The observational design of the study did not allow for an assessment of possible reasons for the results, although potential explanations include chemical exposures and changes in diet, physical activity levels, and other lifestyle factors.
While the study sheds light on early sexual maturation in boys, scientists still don’t know what is behind the change. The important things to take away from this research is that parents need to watch out for physical changes in their children and be ready to teach them about puberty at a younger age.