Do you remember your first period? I do. Even though it has been many years since that fateful day, I can recall the experience as if it happened yesterday. I was 13 years old and walking home from school. Something felt odd as I took each step something wet.
For years scientific studies have indicated that girls are entering puberty at a younger age. Now a new study, focused on boys, says they too are starting puberty up to 2 years earlier than the average age.
The study was conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.) It involved more than 4,100 boys, aged 6 to 16, in 41 states. Pediatricians were recruited to participate in the study and reported their findings to the research network. Half of the boys were white, and the rest were evenly divided among African-American and Hispanic boys. The pediatrician visits took place between 2005 and 2010.
What the researchers found was that the white boys started puberty at age 10, a full year and a half earlier than what has been considered the normal average. The African-American boys started puberty at about 9 years of age, about 2 years earlier than the average. The Hispanic boys were about 10 years old -the average age for boys of Mexican American heritage. The new study also included boys from other Hispanic backgrounds.
Puberty development was measured by examining the size of the boys testes and the start of pubic hair growth. Testes enlargement was seen at age 6 in nine-percent of white boys, almost 20 percent in African-American boys, and seven-percent in Hispanic boys.
Pubic hair growth started about a year later than testicle enlargement in all groups. That's about the normal time pubic hair growth begins, but it began at an earlier age in conjunction with the testes growth.
So what does this mean for young boys?
"If it's true that boys are starting puberty younger, it's not clear that means anything negative or has any implications for long-term," said Adelman, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on adolescence. But it might be advantageous for parents to talk their young boys sooner about the birds and bees. Children this young are not always prepared for the