During the eighties, Researcher, Marcia Merman-Giddens, observed that more and more young girls that visited the Duke Medical clinic had obvious puberty onset signs. These girls were not 11 or 12 years, but 8 or 9 years old. As the average of puberty onset was at the time 11 years, but Merman-Giddens saw so many cases of puberty and pre-puberty in much younger girls, she initiated a study.
The study, done with the collaboration of the American Academy of Pediatrics, using 17.000 girls as a sample, showed that Caucasian girls started to grow breasts in average at the age of 9.9 years, while for Black girls the average age was even lower, at 8.8 years.
The results caused controversy in the medical community, as early puberty entails also a danger of young girls being viewed as sexually mature, and approached this way by adults or much older people.
Boys to Men
A new study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that boys are no exception to the rule of early puberty. While in 1860 puberty started at the age of 16.6 years in girls, that number has fallen to 10.5 years in 2010 and the same goes for boys, only their puberty starts a year later in comparison to girls.
Why is it so?
The reasons behind this early puberty onset are being researched by different teams and there is some controversy about the results. Obesity and a high body mass index is thought to cause premature growth, but a Danish study that researched 7 year-olds showed that there is no link between body mass and early puberty, at least at that age group.
Eating habits that incorporate foods high in sugar and fats have been blamed by scientists, as well as a sedentary life-style. And of course, the pharmaceutical pollutants released in the water and atmosphere by industries are to blame as well. It has been proven that they change hormonal production and cause issues to the sexual development of both fish and animals.
The drop in onset of puberty is alarming for both scientists and parents. A body that matures faster than the mind can cause trouble. Having sexually matured boys and girls at such young ages could lead to children growing up too soon and not enjoying their childhoods.