Boys in the US are also hitting puberty earlier
One of the running stories for the last decade or so has been the rise of a phenomenon of early maturation of girls.
This is indicated by the rising teen pregnancy rate in young girls aged twelve or thirteen. For a long time, this was blamed at least in part to environmental exposure to phytoestrogens and other hormone-mimicking compounds in addition to hormones supplied through food.
Now, a new study from the North Carolina School of Public Health reveals that in the United States boys are also being observed to sexually mature significantly faster than they should.
The decrease in age has been between six months and two years on average.
Researchers are concerned that environmental factors may be at play in the enhanced pace of maturation. It has proven rather difficult, however, to assess what kinds of environmental effects may cause this.
“Kids who mature physically at a younger age tend to be placed in situations that are consistent with how they look, which is older than they really are,” said Jane Mendle, director of the Adolescent Transitions Lab at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, as reported by USA Today.
Factors as varied as sedentary lifestyles, diet, and exposure to chemicals could be culprits in the unnatural race to sexual maturity in boys.
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.