Boys hitting puberty earlier, just like girls

22 Oct

A new study suggests that US boys may be reaching puberty up to two years earlier.

The study, “Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Boys: Data from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network,” conducted by AAP Pediatric Research in Office Settings (PROS), found that the mean ages of stage 2 genital and pubic hair growth in U.S. boys is six months to two years earlier than what previous data suggested.

African-American boys were found to reach puberty faster, with the earliest documented stage of puberty occurring at 9 years old, as compared to 10 years old for Hispanic boys and 10.5 years old for Caucasians.

Due to extensive research, the idea that girls are reaching puberty at younger ages is widely accepted among scientists, but this study is one of the first to analyze puberty in men.

“Contemporary data on the ages of pubertal characteristics in U.S. boys from onset to maturity, lacking until now, are needed by pediatricians, public health scientists, and parents,” the study author Marcia E. Herman-Giddens said in a press release. “Following changes in growth and development is an important part of assessing the health of the nation’s children. I am grateful to the pediatricians and the boys who participated in this exciting study.”

After analyzing data from more than 4,100 boys in 41 states, the authors say the implications for their findings still isn’t known and more research is needed.

“All parents need to know whether their sons are maturing within the contemporary age range, but, until now, this has not been known for U.S. boys,” said PROS Director Richard C. Wasserman in a press release. “The PROS study provides 21st century standards.”

The study will be published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

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