The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that boys in the U.S. are experiencing the onset of puberty up to two years earlier than reported in previous research. A new study detailing the phenomenon is set to be published in the journal Pediatrics.
The earlier onset of puberty in girls is now generally accepted after extensive research, but until now, little research was available on the age of onset of puberty in boys in contemporary times. The new study was conducted by hundreds of pediatricians nationwide and involved more than 4,100 boys.
The study found that the observed ages of stage 2 genital and pubic hair growth and early testicular enlargement - standard indications of pubertal onset - were six months to two years earlier than documented by research from several decades earlier.
Pediatricians recorded the earliest stage of puberty as occurring in non-Hispanic white boys at age 10 years; in non-Hispanic African-American boy at age 9 years, and in Hispanic boys at age 10. Overall, the researchers said that African-American boys were more likely to start puberty earlier than white or Hispanic boys.
What's driving boys toward a lower age of puberty - and the public health implications - is unclear and warrants further research, said researcher Richard C. Wasserman.
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Source: American Academy of Pediatrics