Boys Hitting Puberty Sooner

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 20 2012 3:08 PM

Boys Hitting Puberty Sooner, Just Like Girls

72804944
African-American boys are starting to see the first signs of puberty at 9.1 years

Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Boys in the United States are beginning to see the first signs of puberty from six months to two years earlier than previously observed, according to a new study published Saturday in Pediatrics. The study is the first to look at the onset of puberty for U.S. boys in 25 years and seems to mirror similar findings that have already been well documented in girls, points out the Wall Street Journal. The difference appears most pronounced in African-American boys, who are starting to see the first signs of puberty at 9.1 years. The average for Hispanic boys is 10 and 10.1 years for white boys, compared with the average age of 11.5 in previous studies.

The study has been a long time coming and is widely considered to be the most comprehensive attempt to measure puberty in U.S. boys. Still, experts cautioned that since previous studies were smaller or approached the issue through a different light, it might not be so easy to pinpoint how much earlier boys are developing, points out the New York Times.

Advertisement

The study involved 212 practitioners across the country who recorded information on genital size and the appearance of pubic hair, generally thought to be the first signs of puberty, in 4,100 boys. Part of the reason why it took so long to carry out the study, years after a similar trend was seen in girls, is that it is more difficult to identify the onset of puberty in boys, notes CNN.

The researchers did not attempt to answer the question why so the reasons behind this earlier onset of puberty remain a mystery. There are theories that it could be related to obesity rates, physical inactivity, and chemicals used in food production. “But those are just theories, and they remain unproven,” cautions the Associated Press.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.