Study documents early puberty onset in boys

October 20, 2012

A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has documented that boys in the U.S. are experiencing the onset of puberty six months to two years earlier than reported in previous research.

The study, " in Boys: Data from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network," will be published in the November 2012 Pediatrics and published online Oct. 20 to coincide with the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans. The trend toward earlier onset of puberty in girls is now generally accepted and supported by extensive research. Until now, little research was available on the age of onset of puberty in boys in contemporary times.

The study was designed and conducted through the AAP Pediatric Research in Office Settings (PROS) practice-based research network, a system of hundreds of pediatricians nationwide who contribute data to AAP-led scientific studies on children's health. A 1997 PROS study was the first large study to document earlier pubertal onset in US girls. For the study of pubertal characteristics in boys, 212 practitioners in 144 pediatric offices in 41 states recorded information on more than 4,100 boys.

This new research found that the observed mean 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 data several decades earlier. Pediatricians recorded the earliest stage of puberty as occurring in non-Hispanic white boys at age 10.14 years; in non-Hispanic African-American boy at age 9.14 years, and in Hispanic boys at age 10.4.

Overall, African-American boys were more likely to start puberty earlier than white or Hispanic boys. Study authors say the causes and public health implications of an apparent shift toward a lower age of puberty onset for boys is unclear and warrants further research.

"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," said study author Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, DrPH. "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."

"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, MD, MPH, FAAP. "The PROS study provides 21st century standards."

"The landmark PROS study of the 1990s provided contemporary data for girls' puberty," Dr. Wasserman said. "A study on puberty was a logical follow-up. Our pediatric endocrinologist colleagues now use the PROS assessment training materials in their own studies and fellowship training."

Explore further: Boys who mature rapidly have more depression

Related Stories

Boys who mature rapidly have more depression

May 8, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Boys who reach sexual maturity more rapidly than their peers have more problems getting along with others their age and are at a higher risk for depression, according to a Cornell study published in Developmental ...

Faster progress through puberty linked to behavior problems

September 1, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Children who go through puberty at a faster rate are more likely to act out and to suffer from anxiety and depression, according to a study by researchers at Penn State, Duke University and the University ...

Puberty turned on by brain during deep sleep

September 13, 2012
Slow-wave sleep, or 'deep sleep', is intimately involved in the complex control of the onset of puberty, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and ...

Recommended for you

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarD
not rated yet Oct 20, 2012
I blame that rap music and those sexy sexy 12 year old girls they go to school with.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.