Like girls, U.S. boys may be hitting puberty earlier

Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:37am EDT
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By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Boys in the United States may be entering puberty earlier than in generations past, a new study has found, suggesting it's not just girls who are developing at younger ages.

In comparisons with decades-old data, boys who were seen for well-child visits between 2005 and 2010 were maturing six months to two years sooner, based on their genital development.

The finding is significant for researchers seeking to understand why the age of puberty may be creeping down.

The discovery is also important for parents, who have to know how and when to discuss changing bodies with their children, according to the lead author of the study published online Saturday by the journal Pediatrics.

For the full study, see

"They need to talk to their boys earlier than they would have thought about puberty and sexual development and all of those related issues," said Marcia Herman-Giddens at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Recent studies from the United States and elsewhere have shown that girls are maturing at a younger age, with many starting to develop breasts as early as age 7 or 8.

Doctors haven't necessarily thought the same early puberty trend applied to boys. Some doctors blame estrogen-like chemicals in the environment for girls' earlier development. Those same chemicals would be expected to delay sexual maturation in boys.   Continued...